When the temperatures soar the last thing I want to do is spend hours in a hot kitchen preparing an evening meal. On hot, balmy evenings the barbecue is my best friend. Relaxed, alfresco cooking and dining. Pared back and laid back. No wonder this is my favourite time of year.
Another fast day, another summer salad. This time it’s all about the taste of the Mediterranean. Making good use of fresh seasonal produce; pendulous eggplant, sweet capsicum, plump tomatoes, crisp lettuce and fresh herbs. Perfectly ripe and bursting with flavour, all that is really required is a quick sear on a hot grill. Combine with salty haloumi and a tangy dressing. Voila dinner is served. A perfect 5-2 fast day meal for just 260 calories per serve.
A Mediterranean Grilled Haloumi and Summer Vegetable Salad
Makes approximately 6 cups (260 calories per cup serve)
2 medium sized eggplant (180 calories)
2 capsicums (62 calories)
1 punnet (250g) cherry or grape tomatoes (54 calories)
180g haloumi cheese (612 calories)
2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing (240 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
100g mixed salad leaves, radicchio, endive and rocket (17 calories)
1/2 cup picked herb; basil, mint and oregano, to garnish (2 calories)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (4 calories)
finely grated zest and juice of one lemon (12 calories)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (12 calories)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (360 calories)
To Prepare The Vegetables
SLICE eggplant into 1 cm thick pieces and sprinkle each side with salt. Allow to sit in a colander for about 30 minutes to release some of its bitterness. Rinse the salted eggplant. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
SLICE the block of haloumi into 12 thick slices, set aside.
PREHEAT the barbecue or a large griddle pan to medium-high
PLACE whole capsicums directly onto the barbecue and grill for 15 -20 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure the skin is evenly blistered and nicely charred.
TRANSFER the charred capsicum to a plastic bag and twist top to seal. Stand for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle peel and discard seeds. Cut flesh into long, thick strips. Set aside.
PLACE the cherry tomatoes onto the barbecue plate and grill for a few minutes until skin is just beginning to blister. Remove to a plate and set aside to cool.
BRUSH the haloumi cheese and eggplant slices lightly with olive oil.
GRILL the eggplant slices in batches until nicely charred with golden brown grill marks about 3 minutes. Turn the eggplant slices and grill until tender with golden brown stripes on the second side. Eggplant will be cooked when the flesh becomes slightly translucent. Remove to a plate and cover tightly with foil. The eggplant will continue to cook and soften.
GRILL the haloumi cheese on both sides until golden brown. Set haloumi slices aside to cool slightly as you start to assemble the salad.
To Assemble The Salad
WHISK together the dressing ingredients in a small jar.
PLACE mixed salad leaves into a medium bowl. Drizzle half the dressing over the salad leaves, and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper.
ARRANGE the dressed leaves on a platter. Scatter cooled, grilled eggplant slices, capsicum strips and blistered cherry tomatoes evenly over the leaves.
TOP with grilled haloumi slices. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad and garnish with picked herb leaves. Serve immediately at room temperature.