It’s funny, I love comforting winter dishes and there are so many root vegetables that I love cooking with, but I still get kind of happy when I see the spring crops appear in the supermarket. Sure, these days you can get things like asparagus year round with imports from the Southern hemisphere but I don’t think the quality is as good when it travels that far and it feels kind of wrong to be racking up so many ‘food miles’. Plus, seasonal food is right to me not just because it comes from more locally but because more local ingredients generally fit a style of cooking that works with the weather. So for example, while I do like some salads in winter, super fresh ones like this halloumi, herb and shaved vegetable salad feel so much more at home in spring.
I know you may think I’ve been on a bit of a salad trend recently – I guess that’s what the changing weather does for me – but believe me all the recent recipes are tasty and quite different as well. This halloumi and shaved vegetable salad is a lovely mix of crunch, freshness and cheesiness. It is really quick to put together, with most things either just popped straight on the plate or quickly shaved. The only thing cooked is the halloumi and that just takes a couple minutes. Halloumi, if you haven’t had it before is a really tasty Cypriot cheese that’s nearly always served cooked as it is just somehow better that way (it can be a bit rubbery otherwise). If you can’t find it, there’s no immediate substitute comes to mind but maybe some goat’s cheese crumbled over would work as an alternative.
Shaving rather than cooking the vegetables in any way means they are still easy enough to eat but have a lovely fresh crunch. Plus it’s a lot quicker! Herbs-wise I added parsley and tarragon – tarragon to me feels very spring-like (hence I’ve used it a bit recently) and adds a lovely fragrance to salads like this so I wouldn’t skip it unless you really don’t like it, but you could add other herbs such as chives as well. I’ve dressed this with a simple French vinaigrette, but you could vary this if you like to whatever you prefer, just not anything too strong since the flavors are fairly delicate.
As I say this halloumi, herb and shaved vegetable salad is a great, easy salad that’s perfect as the weather is warming up a bit. It’s so quick to make, fresh and crunchy and would work well as a side with lots of different things as well. It’s also that bit more unusual that your basic salad and looks pretty with the nice vegetable ribbons, so would be great for entertaining too. Whatever the reason, it’s worth the few minutes to make it to give it a try. So get shaving some veg!
- 1 carrot
- 3 stalks of asparagus
- handful each arugula, radicchio (or your favorite greens)
- 4-5 stems parsley
- 1 stem tarragon
- 3 slices halloumi
- dressing -
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼tsp sugar
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel ribbons from the carrot and asparagus until you have used them all. You can leave the tips of the asparagus intact(as I did) or shave them, as you prefer.
- Break up any larger radicchio leaves and arrange them, the arugula (or other greens) on a plate. Pull the leaves from the parsley and tarragon and scatter them on top of the greens, followed by the shaved carrot and asparagus.
- Heat a small skillet over a medium-high heat - don't add any oil. Cut the slices of halloumi in half (it often naturally breaks) then when the pan is hot, add them to the pan. They will sizzle/bubble a little at first then dry. Once gently brown - just a minute or two - turn them and cook on the other side.
- Meanwihile whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard and sugar for the dressing and drizzle over the greens, herbs and vegetables. Once the halloumi has cooked place the slices on top of the salad and serve.