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Pan-Fried Halloumi Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

This has got to be my all-time favorite salad, and I hope you’ll love it too. Halloumi, which is a firm, springy and salty cheese with a high melting point, gets seared in a skillet until crisp on the outside and warm within. It’s completely addicting, especially when combined with peppery arugula, quinoa, caramelized summer squash, fresh mint and pomegranate seeds. A Green Tahini Dressing is the magic elixir that ties it all together. You’ll need to make the dressing first, but it can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. I love topping this salad with sweet-and-salty Maple Pecans, although you can go for any roasted chopped nuts. If you prefer, you can grill the halloumi instead of pan-frying it (see the Tips below). Also, feel free to use leftover cooked quinoa—you’ll need 2 cups.
Prep Time20 mins
20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fried halloumi, halloumi salad, halloumi salad recipe
Servings: 2 -4 people

Equipment

  • 12-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet

Ingredients

Quinoa

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt

Summer squash & halloumi

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium summer squash or zucchini, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick planks

For serving

  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • Green Tahini Dressing (recipe link in header)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup chopped Maple Pecans (recipe link in header), or toasted nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios or almonds
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate arils (or dried cranberries)

Instructions

Cook the quinoa

  • In a small pot with a lid, combine the quinoa and water, and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes to steam. Let cool. Do Ahead: The cooked quinoa can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Cook the summer squash and halloumi

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the squash slices in the pan in a single layer (you can do this in batches if needed). Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with half of the Italian seasoning. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the slices over and sprinkle with the rest of the Italian seasoning. Cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet.
  • Pat the halloumi slices dry with paper towels. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet over high heat. Arrange the halloumi in the skillet. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on the other side, 30-60 seconds longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Cut the halloumi into ½-inch cubes.

Assemble the salad

  • Place the quinoa and arugula in a large salad bowl (or into individual serving bowls) and toss with some of the Green Tahini Dressing. Top the salad with the squash slices and halloumi, and drizzle with a bit more dressing. Garnish with fresh mint, maple pecans and pomegranate arils.

Notes

Do Ahead: The quinoa and Green Tahini Dressing can both be made a couple of weeks in advance.
How to Grill Halloumi: Place the halloumi slices on the grill and let cook until grill marks form on the bottom, about 1-3 minutes. Using a thin spatula, loosen the cheese from the grill, flip it over and continue cooking until grill marks form on the other side, about 1-3 minutes longer. 
Recipe Tips:
  • You’ll need a large non-stick skillet (or well-seasoned cast iron skillet) to pan fry the halloumi and squash. 
  • It’s important to pat the halloumi dry before searing—this will help it caramelize in the hot skillet (and prevent it from sticking). 
  • A thin fish spatula makes it easy to flip the halloumi. 
  • You'll need to make this Green Tahini Dressing before beginning the salad. If you prefer, you can dress the salad with a classic Tahini Sauce or a lemon vinaigrette (like the one in this Green Salad) instead.
  • Cooked quinoa gives this salad heft and texture. You can use 2 cups of leftover cooked quinoa or any other grains you like (or you can omit the quinoa altogether).
  • For an extra boost of protein, feel free to add cooked chicken or chickpeas to this salad.
  • Pair the salad with these No-Yeast Gluten Free Flatbreads for scooping!
  • Find a ton of other vibrant one-bowl meals in my book, Build-a-Bowl.