A month or so back our vegetable garden finally materialized after years of hype and speculation. It’s funny when you actually start something after so much procrastination and then you realize it’s not very hard at all. Anyway, this here baby cos (romaine) lettuce is our very first harvest and it’s taught me that if there’s one thing you really ought to grow yourself, lettuce would be it. Fresh picked lettuce is just so much tastier and crunchier than store bought. I’m totally sold – there really is no comparison.
We still have a lot of food left over from when my family came up to stay a couple weeks back. They came to escape the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, and aside from the stressful circumstances in which they arrived it was lovely having them to stay. My Dad very generously filled our kitchen with so much food – more than we could have eaten during their stay – and so we’ve been picking our way through the goodies ever since. I made this salad on Friday night, a throw together of sorts that turned out spectacularly well.
Baby cos leaves, tossed with black grapes, peas, pan-fried haloumi and a honey-mint balsamic dressing. A very simple ingredient list but a stunning combination of flavours. The plump, tart black grapes really pop against the saltiness of the haloumi. It’s this kind of salty and fruity contradiction that I adore in a green salad.
Baby Cos Salad with Peas & Haloumi Recipe
5oz / 150g haloumi cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup black grapes
4oz / 120g baby cos lettuce (romaine)
Rinse haloumi under cold water. Pat dry with paper towel. Use a sharp knife to slice haloumi into ¼ inch / 1cm-thick slabs. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-based skillet over medium-high heat. Add the haloumi and cook for 40 seconds each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Add the peas and boil for 20-30 seconds (do not over cook them). Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking.
To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the honey, ¾ cup olive oil, mint, garlic, balsamic. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
Cut the cooled haloumi into ¼-inch / 1 cm cubes. Toss the salad leaves with grapes, peas, ¼ cup of the dressing and ¾ of the haloumi. Sprinkle the remaining haloumi on top.