Fried Halloumi Salad with Wild Rice, Grapes, and Pine Nuts

Real talk: a slice of fried Halloumi is like a bread-free grilled cheese sandwich. Crispy golden outside, melted, salty, cheesy inside…perfection. For those who don’t know, Halloumi is a brined cheese from Cyprus with a high melting point, making it a dope candidate for the grill of your next summer bbq. (Or for frying and eating right out of the pan… what? Let me live!)

This salad is an adaptation of Allison Day’s Wine Country Salad from Whole Bowls, a cookbook that is so fantastic  I use it on a regular basis and actually follow the recipes! Some of the ingredients here are more pricy (looking at you, pine nuts), so freestyling for the budget is encouraged.

Some great substitution ideas:
• Sub romaine lettuce for whatever greens are on sale and in-season.
• Sub slivered almonds or salted sunflower seeds for pine nuts
• Sub wild rice for brown rice

You can also prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time, and toss this together quickly and easily any night of the week, for yourself, your fam, or any company stopping by.

Fried Halloumi Salad with Wild Rice, Grapes, and Pine Nuts
Serves 4
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For the salad:
4 c. (packed), romaine lettuce
3 green onions, sliced
1 c. wild rice, uncooked
2-3 c. red seedless grapes
1/3 c. pine nuts
250g Halloumi cheese

For the dressing:
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 heaping tbsp. dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the wild rice and put it in a medium pot filled with water—bring the water to the boil and salt it like you would if you were cooking pasta. Boil, cooking until rice blooms and splits, about 40-50 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While the rice is cooking, put together the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard. Add in the garlic, salt, and pepper—taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Set aside.

3. Dry toast the pine nuts by putting them in a small frying pan in a single layer over medium heat. (Pine nuts have a high amount of fat, so toss frequently to keep from burning until they are golden brown!) Remove from heat, save the frying pan.

4. In a large salad bowl add the lettuce, green onion, grapes, pine nuts, and wild rice. Cover with the dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Divide into 4 bowls.

5. Cut 2 slices of Halloumi about a half-inch thick for each serving. Heat up the small frying pan over medium heat and create a single layer of cheese, flipping when one side is fried and golden. When each side is golden, and all the cheese is fried, top each salad and serve!

#AVeryVeganApril

Okay that title isn’t accurate, but #AVeryVeganFortnight didn’t sound as good. (Also, have a picture of a Highland cow, vegan creature and unofficial mascot of this post… because I like Highland cows.)

The challenge: eat vegan for two weeks, from April 1-14. No using recipes I’ve tried before to make it happen. (I could eat peanut noodles with tempeh forever, soooo…)

Why: For fun! I like cooking, and I eat a lot of cheese, so this is a good way to change things up and try new dishes and ingredients.

How’s it goin’, eh?: I eat vegetarian about six days a week, so this maybe isn’t as hard for me as it might be for someone who eats more animal products. THAT BEING SAID,  friends came from out of town and wanted to meet for the best smoked meat in Montreal so, at least ONE lunch was a delicious bust.

My kitchen has changed up too! I’ve tried new recipes, ventured into tapioca starch, and made vegan queso. (I also screwed up Veganaise by using almond milk instead of soy.)

The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I’m taking care to read a lot more labels. I look at ingredients to scan for animal products, and in the process, I’m noticing all the additives and preservatives that are even in the healthy foods that I eat (especially things like breads or tortillas). Here’s to nosh with less additives?

What are you eating, dude?:

Uhm, basically whatever I want, without the cheese? It has been a lot of curious comfort food and some indulgent bites, but I’m always trying to add more vegetables to everything, and I’ve got a veggie burger recipe coming that BLEW. MY. MIND. So stay tuned for that!

Winter’s Bounty

Sometimes, you have to be excited about salad.

Sometimes you have to be excited about pictures of that salad, and make a blog post to show more than one.

This salad, Allison Day’s Winter Chopped Salad, is just that good, okay?

I think I finally understand arugula.