This is a great dish to make with wonderful September tomatoes. I used a blend of my CSA tomatoes with grape as well as Campari tomatoes. It may possibly be my daughter’s (and even my husband’s!) dream salad- loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, sourdough and fried cheese?!?! It was well received. 🙂
The recipe was inspired by a Greek horiatiki salad and is also similar to an Italian panzanella. Incorporating halloumi cheese makes it hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course. This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin.
Yield: 6 to 8 as an appetizer or side, 4 to 6 as a main course
For the Croutons:
- 1 pound slightly stale sourdough or country bread, thickly sliced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the Salad:
- 4 to 5 cups cucumber chunks, preferably thin-skinned, such as Kirby or Persian
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved, or ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks (I used a blend of orange cherry, grape, and Campari tomatoes)
- 8 to 12 ounces halloumi cheese
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 T thinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
- 2 to 3 T coarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
- 2 T red wine vinegar, plus more as needed
To Make the Croutons:
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut each slice of bread into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear each strip into 1-inch pieces, removing the crust as you go if it is very thick.
- Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet (or use 2 sheets, if necessary to prevent crowding). Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.
- Bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, 10 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet and turning the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly, and checking them every few minutes. (I baked mine for 12 minutes on convection.)
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.
To Make the Salad:
- In a colander in the sink, toss the cucumbers with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place a bag of ice cubes or an ice pack on top to chill and firm the cucumbers. Let drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips.
- Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a measuring cup to steep.
- Pour off excess liquid from the bowl holding the tomatoes. Add drained cucumbers, red onion or scallions, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons vinegar to tomatoes and toss well.
- Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the extra-virgin olive oil, add the oil to tomatoes and mix well. (If desired, the salad can be made up until this point and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before proceeding.)
- When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
- Cook the halloumi: Line a plate with paper towels and lightly coat a nonstick skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high until rippling. Working in batches, cook the halloumi strips on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate to drain.
- Taste and add more croutons to salad as desired. (If there are too many, the salad will be starchy; too few, and it will be wet.)
- At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)