Grilled halloumi with beetroot, carrot, lemon and cumin salad
Something about the advent of spring means I want to make everything feel fresh and new, so I started my spring cleaning a couple of weeks ago, to get everything well prepared for the bright months ahead after the long winter hibernation.
I try to clear out my larder cupboard every 6 months or so, so I’m incredulous that somehow there always seems to be a small packet of something that went off circa 1996. Its the bit of the spring clean that I relish the most, a voyage of discovery through the packets and jars I’ve got squirrelled away. I’m a bit of a magpie collector of weird and wonderful foodstuffs on my travels, which are randomly all the more appealing when I can’t understand the label – an interesting surprise maybe; a bit of dinner roulette.
I also amass foodie gifts from people who know I am a sucker for an unusual spice, a new flavoured oil or a special gadget. And so it was that I rediscovered a halloumi cheese making kit that we had been given for Christmas. My husband has a particular fondness for cheese, so I think it was technically a gift for him, but I view all of these things as for sharing really.
I’ve never made cheese before and apart from some fiddling about getting the temperature just right, it was actually very easy. I am not going to suggest you need to dash out and buy a cheese-making kit especially for this recipe, but if you do have such a thing lurking in the back of your cupboard I can only recommend it, as the cheese was excellent.
The salad to accompany this is a nice, fresh spring-like take on the root vegetables that have been a staple of my winter diet for seemingly far too long now. In another few weeks we’ll be on the cusp of the new season asparagus, peas and beans, but for now I’m eking out another few meals on the end of the winter roots. I don’t know why I don’t make this salad more often, it’s so zesty and crisp and fresh, bursting with colour and vitamins. The sweet vegetables with the citrus dressing are an excellent partner for the rich, salty cheese, but I think the salad would also be an excellent accompaniment for some grilled chicken or prawns if cheese is not your thing.
Start by making the salad. Peel and coarsely grate 2 large raw carrots and 2 medium raw beetroot. I did this in my food processor to avoid the beetroot staining my hands, but if you don’t have one just coat your hands in a little olive oil whilst you do the grating. Spritz over the juice of 1 lemon and 1 tsp olive oil. Place 1/2 tsp cumin seeds into a pestle and mortar and give them a bit of a bash until you have a coarse chunky powder. You could use a packet of ground cumin, but I like the extra texture from the slightly chunkier piece of whole seeds. Sprinkle over the grated vegetables with a little salt and stir well. Set aside.
Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Slice your halloumi and grill for a minute or so on each side until gently charred. The cheese doesn’t melt so it will retain its shape, just softening a little.
Serve the hot, salty cheese on top of the crispy lemony salad. I stuffed them both into some seeded pitta breads with some salad leaves and a little chilli oil, also from the back of the cupboard. Maybe see what’s in the back of yours.
To serve 4:
2 large carrots
2 medium beetroot
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 packets of halloumi
pitta breads, chilli oil and salad to serve