Now that the warmer weather has arrived, I am once again in love with salads. I get my cold green salad fix for lunch, but for dinner I really love a heartier salad, with beans or lentils, warmed, to fill and satisfy. This delicious Middle Eastern inspired salad fits the bill. Warm green lentils with a tangy lemon garlic sauce tossed with spicy arugula, sweet, sour tomatoes and salty halloumi. A salad fit for a spring night on the patio.
If you’ve never tried halloumi, I highly suggest you do. It’s a salty, brined Mediterranean cheese with small flecks of mint, usually grilled to crispy perfection before being drizzled with lemon juice or in this case, tossed with the salad ingredients that make up this light meal. I do caution to go light; or even do without the sea salt in this dish as the cheese is so very salty it gives enough flavour to the meal. Any more would be too overpowering. The salty cheese, combined with hearty lentils makes a really unique combination that is hard to not reach for seconds.
Warm Lentil Salad with Halloumi
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
sea salt, to taste
1 cup diced halloumi cheese (diced into 1” cubes)
2 cups arugula, packed
1 cup tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced on a bias
1. Place lentils in a medium stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, 15-20 minutes until lentils are just tender. Drain and let cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a small pinch of sea salt. Set aside.
3. Heat additional 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan (cast-iron is ideal). Add halloumi and sear 2-3 minutes per side, until golden and crispy. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. When lentils are mostly cool, add to sauce bowl with arugula, tomatoes, green onions and halloumi. Mix carefully to avoid crushing lentils (they will fall apart a bit) but to wilt arugula slightly. Serve warm.