Asparagus is coming into season, and we're taking full advantage of that. I love making Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts on the grill, and Asparagus Puff Appetizers. This Roasted Asparagus & Halloumi Salad is another delicious way to enjoy this lovely spring vegetable.
What is Halloumi?
If you've never tried halloumi cheese, you are in for a treat. Halloumi is an unripened, semi-hard brined cheese from Cypress. It's made with a combination of sheep and goat's milk. The best thing about this cheese, besides how delicious it is, is its high melt point. This means that you can grill it, or fry it and it will brown nicely without melting.
Halloumi cheese is salty, creamy, and chewy. Like, squeaky chewy. And it's also downright delicious, especially when you grill or fry it, as I did in this roasted vegetable salad recipe, and in this Grilled Halloumi & Watermelon Salad
About this Salad
This roasted vegetable salad is simple, with a spring freshness, even though the veggies are roasted. Roasted Asparagus, roasted red and orange bell peppers, capers, and fried halloumi cheese are a delicious combo. It's served on a bed of arugula with just a squirt of lemon juice needed to dress it. Pretty simple. And proof that sometimes simple is sublime.
You can serve this salad warm, and you can also make it ahead and have it cold. It's delicious either way, and I like to make enough for leftovers so that we can have it both ways.
Roasting is my favourite way to cook asparagus. Steamed asparagus and roasted asparagus almost don't taste like the same vegetable. Roasted peppers vs stir-fried peppers are also very different. The reason for this is that roasting vegetables causes them to caramelize, which concentrates their sugars. As a result, roasted vegetables are sweeter and more intensely flavoured.
Also, roasting has got to be the quickest and easiest way to cook vegetables. You just toss everything on a pan, pop it in a hot oven for a brief period, and you're done.
Besides the great taste, another reason to roast your vegetables is nutrition. Dry cooking vegetables retains more of the vitamins and nutrients, which can be leached out when steaming, microwaving and boiling. Learn more about nutritional cooking methods here: Best Ways to Cook Vegetables to Retain Nutrients
You can use jarred roasted peppers here, but roasting peppers at home is very easy. I roast them whole until they are charred and blistered, then put them in a covered bowl to steam. When they are cool enough to handle, simply pull off the stems. (a lot of the seeds and pulp will come out as well). Then cut the peppers into quarters, removing the remainder of the seeds and pulp. Finally, remove the skins, which will be very easy to do.
Frying Halloumi vs Grilling
I fried the halloumi cheese for this recipe, using my grill pan, so it does have grill marks. If you don't have a grill pan, you can use a regular pan and your cheese will be golden brown all over. If you are grilling, the halloumi cheese can go on the grill just as easily.
What to Serve with this Roasted Vegetable Salad
This roasted salad is perfect as a light meal by itself, and the halloumi is a filling source of protein. In addition, this is a great side dish for Easter dinner or brunch. And, it's a spectacular side for anything grilled, whether fish, chicken, beef, or pork.
Roasted Asparagus & Halloumi Salad
- 1 pound asparagus trimmed
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 red bell peppers or one red, one orange
- 8 oz halloumi cheese cut into ½" slices
- 1 cup arugula leaves
- ¼ cup capers
- 1 lemon juice of
- Pre-heat oven to 400°
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
- Trim asparagus spears by gently bending each one; they will snap where the tender stalk becomes woody. (You can save the woody ends for soup stock)
- On one parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the asparagus spears with 2 tablespoon of the olive oil, and spread them out across the pan. Sprinkle with pepper.
- On the other parchment-lined baking sheet, put the whole peppers, spaced apart
- Put both baking sheets into the oven. After 10 minutes, use a fork to check that the asparagus is tender. (if they are very thick stalks, they may need another couple of minutes)
- Remove asparagus from the oven and set aside.
- Turn the peppers so that they are blistered on all sides. Roast them for a further 10 minutes. The skins should be charred and blistered, and the peppers will be collapsed and tender.
- Remove peppers from the oven and immediately put them in a bowl with a lid, or use a plate or foil for a cover. Allow them to steam for 10 minutes
- Remove stems from peppers. Cut the peppers in quarters lengthwise and remove skins. Slice the peppers into strips.
- Add the sliced peppers to the baking sheet with the olive oil coated asparagus and toss to combine.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the halloumi slices 3 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Spread arugula on a serving platter. Arrange roasted asparagus and peppers over the arugula.
- Scatter with capers, and drizzle with lemon juice.
- Top with fried halloumi slices and serve