Its just hurtling towards to the end of the year and the festive season is jacking up here in Australia along with the weather. We had the most beautiful weather here this past weekend on the Gold Coast. Corey and I went surfing with his brothers and my baby bonus sister, Gracie. When we first paddled out yesterday, there were 2 dolphins swimming with us for a few minutes. Of course seeing a fin in the water at first induced a mild heart attack, but it was such an amazing experience. After our surf we picked up some fresh ocean trout and tried our hand at smoking it in a DIY smoker we built in our BBQ. Although we smoked out the whole house, it was so worth it. The fish was soft and so flavorful. Once we get it down I will do a post on how to make your own at home in your BBQ.
Todays Manic Monday Meal is a mashup of Mediterranean foods with a bread free version of the Tuscan Italian dish Panzanella Salad and the classic fried Cypriot Haloumi cheese. The cheese and tomatoes compliment each other so deliciously and I added lentils for more texture and sustenance in the salad instead of the traditional stale bread that Panzanella is usually made with
Panzanella was invented as a way to use stale old bread. Before the days of impostor “foods” like the wonderbread that are shelf stable for years, bread used to go stale after just a day. In Panzanella it is used to soak up the juices from the tomatoes but as I found it tends to become really soggy and while the flavors of this salad are out of this world, I wasn’t really into the stodgy bread element so I eliminated the bread from the recipe and added cooked lentils which upped the goodness and made the salad on its own a great meal.
Originating in Cyrpus, halloumi is made from a combination of sheeps and goats milk and its high melting point makes a a great cheese to serve grilled. Halloumi is widely available in Australian supermarkets.
If you have the time then cooking your own lentils is best and although many don’t think its necessary, giving them a soak for a few hours helps to break down any anti nutrients that irritate sensitive digestive systems. Using canned lentils is a very convenient option as they are already cooked so all you need to do is give them a rinse and strain and they are ready to go.
1 clove of garlic
4 anchovy fillets
extra virgin olive oil
3 tbls balsamic vinegar
800g mixed colour tomatoes
1/2 bunch spring onions
2 tbls capers
10 sundried tomatoes
1/2 bunch of basil
1 can of lentils
1 handful of rocket
1 avocado (optional)
2 blocks of halloumi
1 lemon to serve
- Peel the garlic and pop it into the food processor along with the anchovies, 1 tbls olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, half the tomatoes, all but 1 spring onion trimmed and basil, reserving the smallest leaves to sprinkle on at the end.
- Blitz it all together until it becomes a smooth dressing then season well to taste and pour it into a sieve to strain out the excess water.
- Pour the dressing into a large bowl then add the rinsed and strained canned lentils and the rocket.
- Cut the remaining tomatoes in half and add to the bowl along with the chopped sundried tomatoes, capers and avocado. Chop the remaining spring onion and scatter it along with the small basil leaves over the dish.
- Heat a pan on medium heat. Remove the halloumi from its packaging and pat dry with some paper towel. Cut halloumi in half length ways and then again down the middle so that each block gives you 4 pieces.
- Using a little bit of oil in the pan, fry the cheese for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side until it browns then remove from the pan and serve right away with the salad. Serve the cheese with lemon wedges.