Halloumi salad with dates and mint
This salad can be a great starter when portion is scaled back, or an easy main course meal. Whenever I’ve had Halloumi before, it’s been very simple. Fried with a lemon wedge on the side to squeeze. While I love the simplicity, this version takes it to the next level. Once the carrot purée is complete, the salad takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and assemble.
I first enjoyed it at M Bar, a roof top restaurant in Seattle. Headed by Executive Chef, Jason Stratton is also a James Beard Foundation semifinalist, Best New Chef for Food & Wine magazine, and former Top Chef contestant. While this isn’t the exact recipe, this is my home version, suitable as a side for four people. Note in my picture below, the carrot purée isn’t orange, because I used the only carrots I had on hand, the rainbow ones. Orange carrot purée would look far better.
1 (block) package of Halloumi cheese, sliced to 1.5 centimetres thick
1 fresh bunch of mint
1/4 cup of pine nuts toasted
1 handful of pitted dates, halved
1/4 cup Pomegranate molasses (found in most grocery stores these days)
2 TB Olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
4 TB butter
1/4 cup cream
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Sumac (or another spice like nutmeg)
Non stick saute pan
Immersion blender or regular blender
Make the carrot purée. Steam the cut carrots until soft and mashable, mine took about 20 minutes but had them cut large. Water gets absorbed quickly, make sure you check so not to dry burn the carrots. Drain the carrots of any remaining water.
Add the butter and cream to the drained carrots. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat. Purée with an immersion blender or change over to a regular blender. Check consistency and add more cream if too thick. Object here is to get a purée thicker than soup, but not as thick as mashed potatoes. Return it to the pan if you used a blender. Warm up the purée and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Lastly add the sumac or another spice like nutmeg or a little chili. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Tear the mint, toast the pine nuts, and halve your dates. Set aside.
Now time to fry the Halloumi. I used a non stick pan, so didn’t need any butter or fat. Fry on a medium high heat until browned on both sides.
Assembly time. Dollop the carrot purée onto a serving platter or bowl. Top with the fried Halloumi slices, arranging so they overlap but still allow some of the carrot purée to show through. Then top with the dates, torn mint, and toasted pine nuts.
Finally, drizzle with the pomegranate molasses, a squeeze of lemon, and the olive oil. A little extra salt and pepper.
Serve this immediately while the cheese is still gooey and warm.
Recipe inspired by M Bar (Seattle, Washington).