Fried haloumi is a much-loved and semi-regular treat in this house. We sometimes make sandwiches with it, but just as often grab whatever salad ingredients we can find and plonk the haloumi on top, dousing the lot with lemon juice and black pepper. However this week, in one of the cookbooks bequeathed to us by Krusty and Jason, I discovered an actual recipe for a haloumi salad, with grapes no less! While this is a combination I'd never considered before, something about it just fit - I could imagine the juicy flesh of the grapes and the sour/bitter skin holding its own against the salty, oily cheese.
Unfortunately I decided that this would be Thursday night's dinner only after I got to work, so I devised a shopping list without the recipe at hand. Haloumi, two kinds of grapes and a bunch of green leaves were all I recalled from the picture and the text was a complete blank. Although I knew they weren't part of the recipe, I thought some garlicky croutons would add another complementary flavour to the meal. When I did return home to the recipe, I discovered that I'd completely missed the dressing! Its ingredients were supposed to be olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and fresh thyme or dill.
Given the oiliness of the cheese, I wasn't that thrilled by the idea of an oil-based dressing. Instead I split the main dressing ingredients up and the result was probably much more to my taste than the original recipe. The sugar from the dressing was completely omitted, and yet I still found the green grapes to contribute a bit too much sweetness for me. Furthermore, I'd recommend eating a lot more greens and a few more purple grapes than pictured above for a fresher, more nutritious meal. The flavour combination was just as bold and varied as I'd anticipated - while grapes remain in season, this will be my new favourite haloumi-based dinner.
Grape and haloumi salad
(inspired by a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking, compiled by Nicola Graimes)
Separate and wash lots of lettuce leaves. Detach green and purple grapes from their stalks and wash the grapes, too. Rest them all in a collander to drain.
Remove the crusts from two slices of bread and cut the bread into cubes. Stale bread is great, if you have some to get rid of! Fry the bread in a little olive oil, until it gets crunchy and browns a little. Add two cloves of minced garlic and two generous shakes of dried thyme, and stir the croutons as they cook. Once the garlic and bread are browned, remove them from the frypan and set aside.
Heat up some more olive oil in the frypan. Slice a block of haloumi into smallish, flat pieces and fry them, flipping them over only once, until they're golden brown on each side.
Time to plate up! Arrange the leaves and grapes on the plate and dress them with a squeeze or three of lemon juice. Top with the haloumi pieces and croutons, then shower your salad with black pepper. Grab your fork and enjoy!