Time saver: Is it possible to transcend deliciousness? To go so far beyond it that mere words could never capture the experience? To leave people speechless with nothing to do but lick their plates? But of course…
I came up with this as the entrée for my Retour tribute menu. It uses pan-fried haloumi, along with balsamic roasted tomatoes and a balsamic reduction to really pack in a lot of flavour. (The reduction is sweet, sticky, strong flavoured, with a tart fruity flavour. The tiniest of drops is a taste sensation. If you haven’t had it before, it’s almost unbelievable that balsamic vinegar can be transformed like this.)
This gives two lunch sized main servings. For entrée sized servings, use the same amount but distribute between four plates.
Pan-fried Haloumi with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Salad with a Balsamic Reduction
- Balsamic roasted tomatoes, prepared according to the recipe
- 200g haloumi cheese, cut into slices around 5mm thick
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp (approx 15g) pine nuts
- ½ c balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp sugar
- 90-100g mesclun salad greens
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Toast pine nuts in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat – stir or shake the pan frequently to cook evenly. Once browned, remove from heat and transfer pine nuts to a small bowl/plate and set aside.
- Add the balsamic vinegar to a small pan and bring to the boil over a high heat, then add the sugar. Stir constantly to avoid burning the vinegar, and reduce to around ¼ of its previous volume (i.e. this yields about 2 Tbsp of reduction), at which point it should become syrupy. Avoid breathing in the fumes as you’re cooking, it’s essentially boiling hot acid and you will know about it. Remove from heat and set aside. (As it cools the reduction will thicken – if it’s too cool it will be hard to drizzle, so you can heat it a little or add a little hot water to get it free-flowing again.)
- Divide the salad greens between two plates, piling them into the centre of the plates.
- Heat a large (ish) frying pan over a medium-high heat.
- When hot, melt the butter in the pan, then quickly add the sliced haloumi. Fry on the first side for around two minutes till golden brown, then flip and fry for another 60-90 seconds on the other side. (The pan needs to be quite hot before adding the haloumi to ensure the cheese fries and browns, rather than melts.)
- Transfer haloumi to a standby plate, then assemble the meal as follows.
- Place around half the tomatoes on top of the plated salad, then arrange the fried haloumi on top of it. Distribute the remaining tomatoes on top of the haloumi. Sprinkle each plate with 1 Tbsp each of the toasted pine nuts. Using a teaspoon, drizzle balsamic reduction over the tops of the salads, going side to side across the plate in a weave pattern. Then turn the plate 90 degress and drizzle 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on to each salad, again in a side to side weave pattern. Then serve.