It’s not quite salad season, but if you want to set the stage for spring, roast baby eggplants and nestle them beside grilled halloumi, a dense, salty cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk that stands up to heat. These 3-inch eggplants are certainly fetching, but you can use 6-inch eggplants and cut them into lengthwise quarters. Halloumi, an age-old staple from Cyprus, gives the salad some protein and panache. The cheese has a rubbery texture until you brown it in a skillet, when the outsides become crisp while the inside stays soft. Grilling season is around the corner; you will want to add this addictive cheese to your repertoire.
|Vegetable oil (for sprinkling)|
|4||cocktail tomatoes or 12 cherry tomatoes, halved|
|4||baby eggplants (3 inches long each), halved lengthwise|
|3||tablespoons olive oil|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|½||teaspoon ground turmeric|
|½||teaspoon ground cumin|
|½||teaspoon coriander seed, crushed in a mortar or with a rolling pin|
|1||cup plain yogurt|
|2||tablespoons lemon juice|
|4||cups baby arugula or spinach leaves|
|¼||cup fresh mint leaves|
|¼||cup fresh cilantro leaves|
|8||radishes, thinly sliced|
|8||ounces halloumi, cut into 8 slices|
1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking sheet.
2. On one side of the baking sheet, place the tomatoes, cut sides up. Place the eggplant halves on the other side, cut sides up. Brush eggplants and tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the turmeric, cumin, and coriander seed over the eggplants.
3. Set the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a plate. Return the pan to the oven and continue cooking the eggplants for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer.
4. In a bowl, stir the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, if you like. If the yogurt is thick, thin the sauce with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to a thick pouring consistency.
5. In each of 4 large shallow bowls, place a handful of arugula or spinach. Add the mint and cilantro leaves and top with tomatoes, eggplants, and radishes.
6. Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat until hot. Brush the halloumi with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and set it on the hot pan. Cook for 1 minute on a side, or until golden and crisp on the outside. Place 2 slices of halloumi in each bowl. Serve with the tahini sauce. Sally Pasley Vargas