Eat: Staying Warm with Salad

I really love a good salad. It's my summer version of soup - a good way to get lots of vegetables into one meal, that can also have a hefty amount of carbs, bacon and cheese added in order to make it more palatable to H1*. It's not really salad weather yet, however, even though the temperature is becoming more humane by the day. I wandered up to the farmer's market yesterday for the first time in mumble-mumble weeks**, and despite the positivity evident in everyone's dress, there's not a lot of exciting stuff going on there. Some potatoes. A little lettuce. Maple syrup.

Thankfully, I don't rely on the farmer's market as my sole source of vegetables. Although I fully understand and appreciate the rationale behind eating seasonally and locally, the idea of doing that in New York leaves me cold. I do my best, and the rest of the time, I enjoy my earth-destroying bell peppers and bananas with a generous side of guilt.

And sometimes chips.

Desperate for a salad recently, I went with a warm one, and added baked sweet potato "fries"*** on the side for extra comfort. The halloumi was from Cyprus, the lettuce was from Brooklyn, the sweet potatoes and onions were from somewhere in the USA, and the bell peppers were from Mexico. The olive oil was from Spain. The balsamic vinegar was bought in Chelsea, but I daresay it spent some time in Italy first.

Vegetables, dressing, and halloumi - all you need for a delicious, warm, vegetarian salad.
Vegetables, dressing, and halloumi - all you need for a delicious, warm, vegetarian salad.

It was a mighty tasty salad ("salad"?) While it may not win the approval of diehard environmentalists, it won our approval, and was the perfect way to bridge the never-ending winter/spring gap.

Halloumi Salad with Sweet Potato Fries (serves 2)

  • 1 medium sweet potato or kumara
  • 2 bell peppers (any colour)
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1/4 pound halloumi
  • lettuce
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I used pomegranate balsamic - if you can find fruity balsamic, I recommend it)
  • salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices to taste

Peel and cut up the sweet potato into thick chips, toss with a little olive oil and your choice of spices, and roast at 400°F in a large roasting pan for 30 - 40 minutes. Turn the chips over about halfway through to get both sides.

Sweet potato ready for roasting.
Sweet potato ready for roasting.

Chop up the bell peppers and onion, and roast these also. If there's room, they can go in the same pan as the sweet potato, although they need less time - 15 - 20 minutes is about right.

Cut the halloumi into not-too-thick slices - about 1/2cm is ideal - and either fry or roast these in a grilling pan until they are cooked to your preference. Frying takes more attention, but putting them in the oven also requires frequent checking...more frequent than I did. They cook quite quickly - about 5-7 minutes on each side should be sufficient, depending on how powerful your oven is/how well your pan conducts heat****.

While everything is cooking, wash and dry lettuce. Make a simple salad dressing by mixing olive oil and balsamic vinegar (a 4:1 ratio is usually about right - add more or less vinegar depending on how you like it). Plate lettuce and top with the cooked onions, bell peppers, and halloumi. Serve alongside the sweet potato chips, with the dressing on the side.

The finished product (I think we could call this 'distracted' halloumi salad).
The finished product (I think we could call this 'distracted' halloumi salad).

Do you usually try to eat locally, or does it not worry you at all? And what if all you want is salad, and all your farmer's market can offer is potatoes and maple syrup?

*Who am I kidding? More palatable to EVERYONE.

**Because it's been COLD, and I can have groceries delivered to my door when it's cold.

***Pretty sure adding fries actually makes all food automatically NOT a salad, but as chips go, these are reasonably healthy.

****I use a Le Creuset Grillit, which is one of my favourite kitchen things ever. It's cast-iron, and it conducts heat incredibly well.