Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Seared Halloumi & Sourdough Croutons

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. ūüôā

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:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.

To Make the Salad:

  1. 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.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips.
  4. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a measuring cup to steep.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.)
  11. At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)

Persian Split Pea & Rice Soup with Meatballs (Ash)

This stew-like soup, traditionally called “ash” in Persian cooking, had a wonderful and unique flavor profile. It was loaded with fresh herbs which added lightness and brightness to what would otherwise be a heavy soup. I also added fresh lemon juice which contributed to the brightness.

This recipe was adapted from cookbook author Naomi Duguid, via Food and Wine. I don’t typically eat lamb and my husband is not partial to mint, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly by using ground turkey and dried thyme. I was unable to track down pomegranate molasses (discontinued at Trader Joe’s! :/ ), so I used balsamic vinegar in its place.¬†Very hearty, healthy, and tasty. ūüôā

I’m sharing my dish at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #157 this week co-hosted by Andrea @Cooking with a Wallflower and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living. Enjoy!

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 cup short-grain white rice (I used arborio rice)
  • 3/4 cup dried green split peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 cups finely chopped parsley leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 cups finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves (I omitted the mint)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or aged balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • coarse¬†salt
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 small yellow onion, grated
  • 1/2 pound¬†ground lamb or turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse¬†salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Crispy Onion Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons¬†canola oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • generous pinch of dried thyme or mint
  1. Make the Soup: In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, cinnamon and turmeric and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rice, split peas and 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice and peas are tender and the soup is quite thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro and mint and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pomegranate molasses/balsamic vinegar and season with salt.
  6. Make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
  7. Roll rounded teaspoons of the ground meat into balls.
  8. Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer until cooked through, 10 minutes. If the soup is getting too thick, add water.
  9. Meanwhile, Make the Toppings: In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.
  10. Add the dried thyme or mint and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the herb oil into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
  11. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 8 minutes; drain.
  12. Serve the soup garnished with the herb oil, fried onions, and additional fresh herbs, as desired.

Note: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated gently before serving. Add the meatballs and simmer 10 minutes before serving.

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