This warm lentil and halloumi salad is great for eating at any time of year – plenty of yummy bits, and so filling!
If there was ever a recipe that perfectly represented my food preferences, it’s this warm lentil and halloumi salad. Lentils, check. Roasted veggies, check. Grilled halloumi, check! All my favourites in one healthy, delicious bowlful.
I’ve spent most of this autumn talking about how cold it’s getting outside, and how much I want warming bowlfuls of comfort food (apologies, I’m British, we like to talk about the weather). That’s still true, but you can only eat a casserole so many times before you want something a bit different.
A halloumi salad might seem like a more summery dish, but the hearty lentils and warm roasted vegetables help this salad to feel appropriate to eat at any time of year. It’s not a lettuce-heavy salad; it’s got just enough greenery to lighten it up, while still being packed with yummy bits.
First up, the lentils! I used tinned lentils, because if there’s one thing a salad is good for, it’s being pretty low-effort, and tinned lentils help that cause. I heated them through in a pan with some red onion and a good dollop of pesto – so tasty.
Next, you’ll want some vegetables. I roasted mine, to make them extra irresistible – roasting always improves veggies tenfold. I used courgette (zucchini) and cherry tomatoes – still on the vine, just so they were pretty in the photos (feel free to remove the vines if you prefer!).
You could use other vegetables instead, if you have something different in the fridge. Peppers are amazing roasted, as are mushrooms and aubergine (eggplant). Really, I’d just stick in whatever needs using up. Salads are nothing if not a good fridge-clearer.
How to cook halloumi
Finally, the pièce de résistance – the grilled halloumi cheese. My favourite thing in the entire world (or possibly third favourite, after my husband and daughter).
If you’ve never cooked halloumi before, you’re missing out. It’s a firm, salty cheese that keeps its shape when it’s cooked – it doesn’t melt, it just becomes squidgy, and gets nice and crispy around the edges.
You can cook halloumi in a regular frying pan – or, if you want those pretty char lines like my halloumi has, you can use a ridged griddle pan (Amazon UK* / US*). You don’t need to use any oil, just stick the slices of cheese in a hot pan, and leave it to do its thing.
I wrote a whole post about how to cook halloumi perfectly, if you’d like more details!
Iron + vitamin C
Then, just assemble your salad!
I like to squeeze a slice of lemon on top of my lentil and halloumi salad. Not only does it taste great – it goes so nicely with that herby pesto and salty cheese – but adding vitamin C to your meals can also help with the absorption of iron. It’s an especially important consideration for vegetarians – the kind of iron you find in plant-based sources like lentils is more difficult for your body to absorb than the kind of iron found in meat and fish, but eating sources of vitamin C at the same time can increase absorption. I won’t go into the details here (not least because I’m not a registered dietitian), but this page does a pretty good job of explaining!
Whether you choose to add the lemon or not, this warm lentil and halloumi salad is a really tasty way to enjoy the cooler weather!
Warm lentil and halloumi salad
- 1 courgette (zucchini)
- ~ 10 cherry tomatoes - I kept mine on the vine
- 2 tbsp oil, divided
- Black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red onion, sliced or diced
- 400 g tin lentils, drained (265g, or ~ 1 1/4 cups, when drained)
- 1/2 tbsp basil pesto
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 200 g halloumi cheese, sliced (~ 6 slices) - I used light
- Small handful fresh rocket (arugula)
- Halve the courgette (zucchini), then slice. Add it to a baking tray with the cherry tomatoes, and drizzle with a little oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
- Meanwhile, heat a little more oil in a frying pan, and add the minced garlic and sliced red onion. Cook for a few minutes over a medium heat, until soft. Add the drained lentils, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the lentils are hot. Add the pesto and lemon juice, and mix to combine.
- To cook the halloumi, add the slices of cheese to a dry frying pan or griddle pan over a fairly high heat. Cook for a few minutes each side, until golden brown and crispy (you can see more details about how to cook halloumi here).
- Assemble the salad with the warm lentils, roasted vegetables, grilled halloumi, and a handful of fresh rocket leaves (arugula). Finish with another squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/2 the recipe.
Got a little bit of halloumi left over? Chop it up into some fritters!
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