Monday, November 1, 2010

Meatless Monday: Grilled Halloumi on Baby Romaine & Pomegranate Vinaigrette

I made it pretty clear when I started writing the Meatless Monday posts, that one of the reasons I was doing this as a way to get the boy and I to eat more veggies.  One of the simplest things I try to throw together with every meal, meatless or not, is a salad.

Growing up I loved blue cheese dressing, something I likely picked up from my father who still favors blue cheese, along with other creamy dressings.  Now don't get me wrong it's hard for me to turn away blue cheese, especially when it comes to buffalo wings, but I know that it is not the best option for  everyday.  In recent years I've discovered that when eating salad at home, rather than buy pre-made vinaigrette it's just as easy and more tasty to throw together my own.  Sometimes I'll take the time to  whisk ingredients together in a bowl but more often than not I will throw one of my various vinegars and a bit more of one of my various oils, with some salt & pepper and toss it as is.   The key to making this work and keeping it from getting boring is to have an arsenal of oils and vinegars.  We always have olive oil, grapeseed oil and at least one nut oil.  Other types will come and go, but those are some of our pantry staples.  For vinegars, I have balsamic, red wine, white wine, and lately a pomegranate balsamic that's really great.  But that too will rotate based on what I see when I go to the market and my favorite store for oil, vinegar and hot sauce Taste the Fourth Sense.

I noticed early on in the boy and I living together that he always ate all of his salad right away when we would sit down to dinner.  I always just assumed it's because he knew he should eat the veggies and wanted to get it out of the way so he could enjoy whatever meat was on his plate.  I finally asked him about it and he actually said, "I really like your salads".  Something about the tangy vinaigrette and the coarse sea salt I use he really likes.  It was a pleasant surprise and an answer that encouraged me to keep making  green salads and try getting more creative with toppings and dressing.  This salad is a result of that and it happens to be one of the boy's favorites.

Grilled Halloumi on Baby Romaine with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

serves 1

1-2 cups baby romaine or other baby green
1/2 Tbsp pine nuts - toasted
1 Tbsp  pomegranate arils
2 slices of halloumi cheese - 1/2"-1" thick - Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese that we find at our local grocery store
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp pomegranate vinegar
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp walnut oil
coarse sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

1.  Whisk together the oil and vinegar.  Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk again, I only add a pinch of salt as Halloumi is quite salty.  Toss the greens with the dressing and pile onto a plate.  Garnish with toasted pinenuts and pomegranate arils.
2.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat, it works best with a nonstick skillet, but if you only have a standard one like me heat it until water trown in the skillet beads up and doesn't evaporate right away.  Add grapeseed oil into the heated skillet and lower heat to medium low.
3.  Add slices of halloumi to the heated oil and fry for 1-2 minutes per side, so it just is golden but doesn't start to break down and melt in the middle or you'll end up with a mess in your skillet.
4.  Remove cheese to a paper towel, lightly blot the oil and then add to the top of your salad.

In my honest opinion you can't go wrong with hot gooey, salty cheese and I think that's why the boy likes this so much.  On our first really cold day here in Toronto this wasn't ideal planning as a salad is not what I crave on a cold day.  Luckily I have some of last week's soup in the freezer which will be a nice complement to this fresh salad.

What are you having for Meatless Monday?


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