the halloumi salad

Cooking always happens in a context. It is intimately linked to the lives that we live which is one of the reasons that I like it so much. Ingredients are symbolic and the combinations in which we grill them, mix them and eat them are all parts of larger stories. Cabbage, for example, will always remind me of my Babchai and her cabbage rolls. It has been a goal of my aunt (and now mine as well) for years to learn how to make them, but every time her and my Babchai make a date to do so my aunt arrives to find a tray of perfect cabbage rolls ready to eat. Watermelon triggers memories of high school and that time friends and I stole one and realized we had nothing to eat it with, no forks and no knives. One of us remembered having a very tiny Swiss Army knife that we then used to make a small indent across the watermelon's circumference. We then dropped the watermelon with all of our might in the hope that it would break open. It did and with no spoons or forks we put our faces into its flesh and ate it as if it were an apple. Yes, food always comes with a story.

Halloumi reminds me of my friend Laura. Last fall we went to Gothenburg's organic farmer's market and she bought a small container of halloumi. It was the most perfect halloumi and I remember eating it at her apartment. We both had smiles so big and we were both amazed that cheese could taste that good. We often went together to a cafe, Two Birds, where we would sit in the back. We chatted about art and life, drank coffee and ate salad with halloumi.

This salad is quite different from the one at that cafe; however, the halloumi still plays a central role. In this salad, though, it is not the main character. Instead it is one of three. The key to this salad is the combination of strawberries, balsamic vinegar and halloumi. The strawberries make the salad sweet, the halloumi makes it salty and the balsamic ties the two flavours together. Fresh herbs, like mint and basil, play fine supporting characters, but if you don't have any around don't worry.

Halloumi and Strawberry Salad

serves one


a large handful or two of baby spinach or mixed greens
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt
6 or so fresh strawberries
a few slices of halloumi
fresh mint or fresh basil, optional

In a bowl mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Wash the strawberries, remove their stems, cut them into smaller pieces if need be and then add them to the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and then set aside.

Slice the halloumi. For one small salad you will want around three pieces. Heat a splash of cooking oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the halloumi. Cook both sides until they are golden brown.

On a plate assemble the salad. Start with the greens and the fresh basil and mint, add the slices of halloumi and then add the strawberries and their dressing. Add a splash more of balsamic vinegar if you wish.


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