28 Apr Asparagus + Halloumi Salad
If all goes according to plan and the temperatures rise as they’re expected to for the summertime, it’s about time we can reintroduce the idea of salad for supper. What with the arrival of spring and summer greens, it means our tables have the opportunity to become lighter, crunchier and zestier.
One of the most enduring spring and summer greens is the asparagus spear. For a spell in the early noughties, it became the status vegetable to adorn your plates with. Rarely was an episode of Come Dine With Me aired without an appearance of these crunchy spears. Asparagus fell out of favour for me when I had my first taste of Irish asparagus in The Tannery in Dungarvan back in 2011. It was such a richer, woodier taste that I realised that the imported variety I had been buying in the supermarkets, most commonly from far away Peru, were a pale, pale comparison of the potential for locally grown spears.
A lot of food writers have predicted this year that purple vegetables are the next big thing, with many including purple asparagus in their lists so that’s something to look out for. What I’ve noticed is that I’ve been seeing more Irish asparagus in the shops. Just this week I spotted a bundle of Irish asparagus in Fallon and Byrne. Their season is May and June so keep an eye out for Irish grown bundles.
If the asparagus are good enough, I think it’s perfectly substantial for supper simply accompanied halloumi and our zesty yogurt dressing for company. However, in the spirit of having breakfast for dinner, you could also add egg and bacon to this salad. If you want to add a bit of meat and protein, bacon lardons and a poached egg would make for delicious additions.
Asparagus and Halloumi Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 10 minutes
Oil for frying
1 bunch of asparagus
1 block of halloumi cheese
Handful of bacon lardons (optional)
2 eggs (optional)
3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of natural yogurt
Zest of half a lemon
Sourdough bread, for toasting
1. Drizzle a bit of oil on a griddle pan (or frying pan) and place over a medium to high heat on the hob. Heat a little oil in a small frying pan over a medium to high heat on a second hob.
2. Slice the tough bottom section from the asparagus spears. Chop the halloumi cheese into cubes.
3. Add the asparagus spears to the griddle pan and the halloumi cheese cubes to the frying pan. The halloumi tends to get stuck to griddle pans. If you don’t have a griddle pan, you can cook everything in the same large frying pan.
4. If adding bacon and eggs, fry your bacon lardons alongside the halloumi. Meanwhile, poach your eggs if using.
5. Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing together the rapeseed, lemon juice and natural yogurt, seasoning with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
6. Serve your asparagus spears with crispy fried halloumi cubes. Drizzle with dressing, season with a bit more salt and pepper, grate the zest of lemon over the top and serve some toasted sourdough on the side. Top with bacon lardons and poached eggs, if using.
Storecupboard Essential: Halloumi
A delightfully squeaky cheese that transforms when fried golden. It doesn’t really melt so it’s ideal for popping in a pan and using as a crunchy salad topping. Try Toons Bridge Dairy Halloumi, made by The Real Olive Company’s sister company in West Cork. You can buy their halloumi online at www.therealoliveco.com.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on April 27th 2017