Well! Where on earth have I been?
You know how it is over Christmas. There’s the huge leadup where you embrace the Christmas spirit and try to push people out of the way when you’re buying presents on Oxford St, then there are the alcohol-soaked Christmas parties, then (if your family is anything like my boyfriend’s) there are days and days of being fed turkey and ham and potatoes and chocolate biscuits until you feel you might as well hop into the oven and roast alongside the bird. Ain’t it glorious?
Then, inevitably, comes the period of self-recrimination where you realise that you maybe ate one or fifteen too many Roses. The new year begins. And so does the diet.
Salads are fantastic because they’re healthy, quick and no-fuss. The trouble is, when you’re eating a salad you always, always know about it. It goes from making you feel virtuous and elated at how good you’re being to your body to making you feel depressed and like you’d kill a small puppy for a plate of pasta. Trust me, I know.
The trick is to use fresh ingredients and keep it interesting. I am not a fan of bitter leaves, although I know lots of people who think they provide a nice contrast in a salad (actually, I’m not a fan of bitter flavours, full stop). But each to their own.
I confess that the inspiration for this salad came from a recent purchase of a non-stick frypan which is actually non-stick. I don’t know how I’ve been getting along without it. Do you know how liberating it is to cook without knowing you’ll need to soak the burnt pans overnight again? Really, if I’d known how ridiculously happy it would make me I would have spent the £2.99 a long time ago.
So I have been looking for things to fry (not easy with salads) and haloumi came to mind. Haloumi is a Cypriot cheese made from goat’s, sheep’s or cow’s milk, is salty to taste and firm in texture. I like it grilled, which creates a nice brown crust and softens the inside to a toothsome squidginess.
The bad news about haloumi is that if it goes cold, it takes on a rather rubbery texture (still tastes good though). Also, it is high in fat so if you’re concerned about that, try to watch the amount you’re using.
3-4 slices of haloumi
4 baby plum tomatoes
half an avocado
Place the haloumi into a non-stick frypan (no oil necessary) over a medium heat.
While the cheese is grilling, arrange the salad leaves on a plate. Slice the tomatoes and avocado and add to the salad.
Make sure you turn the cheese once or twice during cooking so both sides take on that browned look. When they’re done, place them onto the salad and finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.