We’ve admired Denis Cotter from afar and when we got his new cookbook devoured it as usual. What we found was that each recipe had loads of component which built up a brilliant spectrum of flavours, and yet appeared so complex that unless you have time and patience (and sometimes the ingredients too) you’d rarely make the dishes. This one is an exception as it really comes together quite easily and the flavours are superb. We are definitely encouraged and will try more!
Spiced haloumi on a warm Puy lentil, spinach & beetroot salad – to serve 4
- 2 medium beetroot, washed, cooked and peeled (we boiled ours for about 25 minutes)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- 200ml vegetable stock
- 100ml red wine
- 100g Puy lentils (we used Beluga)
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 dried bird’s eye chillies, ground (or less if you prefer)
- 2 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground
- finely grated zest of 1 lime and juice of 2
- 200g haloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
- 100g baby spinach leaves
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
Slice the beetroot into thin wedges, toss with the balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until starting to caramelise.
Meanwhile, bring the vegetable stock and red wine to the boil in a large pan. Add the lentils, thyme and garlic, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender but still firm. If there is any liquid left, turn the heat up and boil until it is almost gone. Stir in the roast beetroot and scallions, and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix the chillies, cumin and lime zest together. Halve the haloumi slices diagonally.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the haloumi until browned on both sides. Sprinkle the spice mix and juice of 1 of the limes over the cheese and toss to coat.
Place some spinach on each plate and scatter some of the lentil mix over. Arrange the haloumi slices on top and finish with the remaining lime juice.
(Original recipe from Denis Cotter’s For the love of Food, Collins, 2011.)
Wine Suggestion: You need something that’s earthy for the beetroot and lentils but also fruity and juicy to balance the heat of the spices. Try a Chilean red made from the Carmenere grape which is an emerging match for spicy food (including Indian curry!).