Last week when I shared with you this Salad of Baby Spinach with Dates & Almonds, from Yotam Ottolenghi, I thought it was not possible to improve on perfection. And that may still be true. But when I set out to make this salad again for my lunch today, and ended up allowing a few different ingredients I had on hand take this in a slightly different direction, I think I came pretty close.
I had some rocket (arugula to some of you) and watercress kicking around in the fridge, which I thought would make a nice change from the spinach. I also had a nice block of haloumi I'd made a couple of weeks ago, using this recipe from Alessandra Zecchini.
I stuck with the sumac and chilli-spiked croutons and almonds from the original recipe, which I've got to say are so addicitive that I could eat just a bowlful of them on their own as a wee snack. Sitting on my kitchen bench is also a large bowl of fresh figs, raided from my neighbour's tree, and it seemed like a few of those roasted off would make a nice substitute for the dates.
The result was everything I dreamed it would be, and more. The peppery rocket and cress, combined with the lemony-spicy croutons and almonds, the sweet, juicy figs, and the salty haloumi was a blindingly-good flavour combination. While crunchy nuts and croutons, velvety leaves, soft fruit and squeaky cheese all added up to a great textural combo as well.
This is the perfect dish for a light autumn lunch, or would also make a great side dish to roasted chicken or some lovely barbequed lamb chops. Hope you'll give it a try.
Rocket & Cress Salad with Roasted Figs & Haloumi Recipe
Inspired by a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tomimi
Makes a meal for one person or side dish for two
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
Note: Really you don't have to be too fussy about quantities here, just adjust to suit what you have on hand or to suit the number of mouths you want to feed
approx 100g (3-1/2 oz) haloumi, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for dressing
1-2 slices of sourdough bread, cut into cubes
small handful of raw almonds, very roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sumac
chilli flakes to taste
4x fat, juicy, fresh figs, cut into quarters
2x large handfuls rocket & watercress leaves, mixed
juice of 1/2 lemon
flaky sea salt
Heat a small pan over medium heat, and once the pan is hot, dry fry the haloumi slices until golden on both sides. Remove and set aside to cool.
Wipe out the pan, add one tablespoon of the olive oil, and return the pan to the heat. Once the oil is hot, add the bread and almonds to the pan and cook until they are crisp and golden, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat, add the sumac and chilli flakes, and a small pinch of flaky sea salt. Toss to combine well, then remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, wipe out the pan again and return to the heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and, once hot, add the figs. Saute for several minutes, turning regularly until the figs are caramelised and softened and juices starting to run. Remove and set aside while you assemble the salad.
Put rocket and watercress leaves into a serving bowl or platter. Add the toasted bread and almonds and toss well. Tear or chop the haloumi slices into bite sized pieces and distribute evenly amongst the leaves. Arrange the roasted figs over the top, squeeze over the lemon juice, and drizzle generously with the extra virgin olive oil. Taste and sprinkle over another pinch of flaky sea salt if necessary.
I'm sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays hosted by my friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, and at Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollam.