This warm Quinoa, Halloumi and cold chickpea salsa salad is a complete healthy meal. It’s packed with flavour and textures, and the combination of warm and cold put side by side enhances its appeal even further. Till now, paneer was the only cheese I knew that could be grilled or fried without melting — until I discovered Halloumi during our last trip to Istanbul. Like paneer, halloumi is a semi-hard cheese with a very high melting point — which means it can be fried or grilled without losing its shape. It acts as an amazing accompaniment to salads.
For this salad, I simply warmed the halloumi a little on the pan without oil. You can also use paneer instead of halloumi cheese. For grains, I have used a mix of white and red quinoa, and brown rice. For a gluten-free salad, skip the rice. You can also use couscous instead, or just quinoa or even just rice.
Warm Quinoa, Halloumi and Cold Chickpea Salsa Salad
Preparation Time: 10 minutes | Cooking Time 20 minutes | Serves 2 as main and 4 as a side
1 cup – Mix of red and white quinoa, and brown rice
2 cups – Vegetable stock
3 tbsp – Olive oil
200g – Canned chickpeas, drained
2 tomatoes cut in big chunks, or use 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red chilli, half finely chopped and half sliced
1 tbsp – Balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
1 tsp – Cumin powder
1/2 cup – Fresh mixed herbs, chopped (mint, parsley and coriander)
100g – Halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
* Mix together chickpeas, tomato cubes, vinegar, 1 tbsp oil, finely chopped chillies, salt, cumin and half of the herbs. Toss everything together. Cover and keep in the refrigerator while you cook everything else.
* In a sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Add the quinoa and brown rice mix.
* Cook covered on low heat for 10 mins till all the stock is absorbed and the grains are cooked through. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
* Adjust seasoning according to your taste.
* Heat a flat pan and lightly cook the halloumi on both sides. If you have a grill pan, it will be great to get a few grill lines on your cheese — especially to gain that exotic look for the salad.
* Divide the quinoa between two serving plates. Add the chickpea salsa on the side and top with warm halloumi.
* Garnish with red chilli slices.