Some days are so long that at the end of it all you want to do is to feed your kids, send them upstairs and have a nice and relaxed dinner with your favourite person. Preferably one that doesn’t involved a lot of cooking. This salad with figs and halloumi is so quick, yet it’s perfect for a winter evening because of the grilled halloumi that adds a bit of warmth.
The overall flavour mix works so well-the sweetness of fresh figs are balanced out by the saltiness of grilled halloumi. I absolutely adore grilled halloumi-crispy on the outside and slightly gooey on the inside. When I was thinking about what ingredients should go into this salad I briefly considered fresh mozzarella but in the end I went with halloumi because didn’t want mozzarella to make everything wet and cold. After all, it’s a winter salad and I wanted it to be verging into a comfort food category. To top it off, a light sprinkling of toasted pine nuts add a light crunch and a beautiful flavour.
Pine nuts will signal Christmas to me as long as I live, mostly because when my brother and I were little and growing up in Russia, our parents always gave us pine nuts still lodged in pine cones for Christmas, that smelled wonderfully of winter forest, allegedly somewhere in Siberia-or so we thought. Getting those tiny pine nuts out of the cone was one of my favourite things to do, as was attempting to crack the shell. Do you know how hard that is? They are tiny and really difficult to hold in place!
I never had fresh figs growing up but they are not difficult to fall in love with-beautiful, plump and deliciously sweet-what a treat!
This salad comes together in less than 15 minutes including time to make the dressing, which is a combination of extra virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses, a pinch of brown sugar and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
One of the perks of being a food blogger is friends bringing you obscure and delicious food items from their travels. Some time last summer my friend Angela brought me a tiny bottle of pomegranate balsamic vinegar made on a tiny farm in Belgium. I know, how crazy is that! It has a much more delicate flavour than a regular balsamic vinegar.
I used a combination of that and a regular balsamic vinegar for this dressing, but the recipe will work just as well with only regular balsamic vinegar since it owes it’s flavour and fragrance to pomegranate molasses. Look for it in international food aisles or Middle Eastern food stores. For those in the UK, I bought mine at Sainsbury’s.
- 220g/3 cups salad greens of your choice
- 4 fresh and ripe figs quartered
- 125 g halloumi sliced
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
For the Pomegranate Dressing
- 4 tbsp Pomegranate molasses
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry, non-stick pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes shaking the pan to ensure even browning until golden and fragrant. Take off the pan and set aside.
- In small saucepan or a small pan combine the ingredients for the dressing and cook over low heat for approximately 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is reduced so it coats a spoon.
- Cut halloumi into slices 1/3" thick and then cut them in half lengthwise.
- On the same dry pan place slices of halloumi and fry on both sides over medium heat for 3-5 minutes each until golden.
- Toss salad greens and quartered figs with olive oil, add fried halloumi and drizzle lightly with a tablespoon of pomegranate balsamic dressing, bottle the rest and reserve for the later use.
- Divide among two plates, sprinkle with pine nuts and serve immediately while cheese is still warm.
I served this winter salad with figs as a side to a pork loin which only took 15 minutes to cook in the oven. Quick, easy and delicious dinner under 20 minutes with minimum effort. Just what I needed!