The salad has gotten a bad reputation; the age-old belief equating healthy with boring and uninspired. The salad can be so much more than a mix of lettuce and croutons, in fact it can be as hearty as you want it to be. Break out of your salad rut by nixing the boring ingredients and adding tons of texture, crunch and flavor.
Tomato & Halloumi Salad with Za'atar
Aarti Sequeira, the host of 10 Minute Meals on OWNZONES, author of Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul and the host of Aarti Party on Food Network, believes that this salad will never taste as good as it does in the summer, when tomatoes are at their most buxom and most packed with sugar.
"It's something special, something different from the boring old caprese that everyone makes in the summertime. Whenever I'm making food for people, I like to include an ingredient that someone has never had before -- halloumi is one of them. Once you've had it, you'll never want to live without it again. And hopefully, every time that person has the delicious, crispy, salty, melty cheese, they'll think of me! I know! I'm vain!" she says. "It's no wonder people don't want to eat salads. They're boring! The key to me is mixing up flavors and textures. So make sure you always have: cool greens (gem lettuce, kale, frisee, arugula, watercress), a vegetable, a fruit, something crunchy (nuts or seeds) and some cheese (creamy feta, goat cheese, parmesan, romano) or something salty like olives or capers... And make your own dressing! 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar/lemon or lime juice. From there, the world is your salad bowl," says Sequeira.
- 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes of various colors and sizes (about 11/2 pounds)
- Coarse sea salt (such as Maldon)
- 1 (8 ounce) package halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch rectangles
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh parsley and mint leaves, roughly torn
Slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch rounds (a serrated knife works really well here); cut smaller tomatoes into wedges. Arrange them on a platter and sprinkle with a little salt. Set a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Lay the halloumi slices carefully in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes per side, until golden brown. Arrange these on the platter with the tomatoes.
Now, squeeze lemon juice over the tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Generously sprinkle za'atar and lemon zest over the salad. Finish with a flurry of parsley and mint leaves, and serve.