As the weather warms up, I am finding myself craving salads more and more for dinner. I am not much of a leaf eater though. The best way to put me off a salad is by putting in piles and piles of leaves, which is why I love this hearty salad, which made a great main meal for Paul. I and it packs both a flavour and colour, which is precisely what a spring salad should do.
Grilled asparagus and courgette salad with haloumi, semi-dried tomatoes and basil oil
Adapted from cooksister.com, originally a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe
350g cherry tomatoes, halved
24 asparagus spears
2 large courgettes
250g haloumi, sliced into 0.5mm thick slices
A large handful of rocket
A little flour
For the basil oil
60ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
25g fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Preheat your oven to 170 C (160 C for a fan oven). Toss the cherry tomatoes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and season with a good whack of salt and pepper. Spread the tomatoes out skin side down on a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Trim the hard woody ends off the asparagus and add them to the boiling water. Boil for 4 minutes. Then drain the asparagus and put them in a bowl of cold water. Drain and repeat until the asparagus spears are cold. Toss the asparagus spears in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the ends off the courgettes and slice very thinly using a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Toss the slices in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Now grill the asparagus spears and courgette slices. You can either do this using a hot griddle pan on the stove top, or like I did it, using a George Foreman grill or similar. Either way you want to grill the veggies until they are just tender and have those sexy grill marks on them. No more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. If you are going to use a pan I would suggest adding a little oil to it to make sure things don’t stick. Set aside the veg to cool a little.
Lightly dust the haloumi slices in flour and grill for 2 minutes on each side in your griddle plan or on the George Foreman. Set aside to cool a little.
To make the basil oil, put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.
Arrange the rocket leaves in the bottom of a large salad bowl or platter. Arrange the remaining veg and haloumi over the top. Drizzle with basil oil
Serves 2 – 3 as a main course or 4 -6 as a side.