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The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Ingredient: Italian parsley

Halloumi and Grilled Veggie Salad

Halloumi and Grilled Veggie Salad

Adding grilled veggies and halloumi to salad greens makes this salad hearty and delicious. The halloumi and vegetables can be cooked outside on the grill or indoors on the stove-top in a grill pan.

Halloumi is sheep and goat’s milk cheese from the island of Cyprus. A unique characteristic of halloumi is that it has a high melting point making it ideal for grilling or pan-frying. When halloumi makes contact with a hot grill or pan, the exterior begins to turn golden brown and the interior becomes soft.

If you can’t quite wrap your head around grilling the halloumi on a grill, check out this video of Curtis Stone showing you how it is done. Grilling cheese until it’s golden? Sign me up.

 

To make the grilled veggie and halloumi salad, slice 8 ounces of halloumi into 1/2” slices. For the vegetables, prepare one peeled red onion by cutting into wedges. Cut the two zucchini into thick slices, one red pepper into thick strips, and eight mushrooms cleaned and halved. Place veggies, halloumi, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl stirring to coat all the ingredients.

Halloumi and Grilled Veggie Salad-4

Next, in a small bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of tahini, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-hot. Cook veggies and halloumi in batches, turning once until charred. Place both halves on the lemon on the grill and cook until you can see grill marks on the lemon.

Arrange salad greens on a large platter, top with grilled veggies, halloumi, tahini dressing and fresh parsley. Season to taste. Squeeze grilled lemon over salad. Serve immediately.

Other veggie-forward meals that you may want to check out:

Vertical image Halloumi and Grilled Veggie Salad-1

Shakshuka

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Shakshuka has an unusual name that may not roll off the tongue easily at first but believe me once you make this you will be shakshuka-ing all the time. Shakshuka is a dish that is popular in North Africa and the Middle East. Basically, the dish consists of eggs poached in tomatoes, onions, red peppers, and various spices.

Shakshuka is incredibly versatile and can be served for dinner or brunch. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples and from start to finish you can make this meal in just over 30 minutes. Plus, when you are done your kitchen will smell like heaven. I kid you not.

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One unusual element of this dish is using a large can of whole, peeled tomatoes. I like to pour the whole can into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes by hand before adding them to the skillet.  This process adds not only the terrific flavor from the whole tomatoes but provides the sauce a beautiful rustic texture.

But, be warned, wear an apron or clothes that you don’t care about because it is a messy process. If you hate messes you could also use a pastry blender to break up the tomatoes. But, why not bring out your inner Lucille Ball and smash those babies up like an Italian grandma? Check out this video. This woman gets me.

Having bread to soak up the sauce is crucial. My preference is a nice crusty loaf or fresh warmed pitas. A crisp green salad would round out the meal perfectly.

Last year, a few Hello Fun Seekers readers and I all made shakshuka simultaneously and live-tweeted our progress on Twitter. It was really fun! Would you all be interested in doing something like that from time to time? Let me know in the comments below if you think that sounds like fun.

How to Make Shakshuka

Shakshuka

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

If you have a large pot and a few pounds of mussels, you can have a dinner party worthy meal on the tables in no time at all. Mussels are one of the easiest meals to prepare. All you need to do is give the mussels a quick scrub and soak, cook up a few aromatics for a broth to steam the mussels in, and five minutes cooking time. For Mussels with Cider, Shallots and Bacon, I decided to add some autumn flair but using apple cider instead of the more typical white wine as the base of the broth.

The website Serious Eats has a more detailed article on cleaning mussels if you would like a step-by-step guide. I have also included a video below. But, I promise, it is really easy and takes no time at all. Once you get the hang of it, you will be preparing mussels all the time!

While mussels and French fries (frites) are a popular combination in Belgium and France, I prefer to serve mussels with slices of nice bread. My favorites are a beautiful baguette or ciabatta. You will want to use the slices of bread to soak up the delicious broth.

So, let’s walk through the process. Heat a large pot over a medium flame and add oil olive and butter. When the oil and butter start to bubble, add the chopped bacon and cook for a few minutes.  Next you will add the shallots, garlics, and thyme and cook until they are soft. Finally, add the cider and mustard. Bring the broth to a boil before adding the cleaned mussels. The only need a few minutes to cook. Seriously easy, right?

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If you would like a tasty beverage to accompany your mussels, I recommend either a crisp white wine, sparkling wine (bubbles go with everything), or a Belgian beer.  I love to serve this meal not only because it is delicious but it is a slow-paced meal which encourages conversation as you work your way through the mussels. Slow food at its best!

How to Make Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon Pin

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

I went through the first twenty-five years of my life thinking that I didn’t like beets. My only point of reference was the pickled beets that I encountered sliced up on salad bars. Those pickled beets just didn’t do it for me and never made their way to my plate.

Believe me when I tell you that back in the day, I knew a lot about salad bars. When I was in high school I worked at Burger King and back then BKs had salad bars where diners could make their own salads. I was the queen of that salad bar. I took pride in making sure that the salad bar looked fantastic when I was working. I would painstakingly arrange the kale (which was decorative in those days) around the containers of salad fixings. I would also make sure that the salad bar items were fresh and full and oh so tempting. I took it as a personal affront when people ordered hamburgers instead of a salad! But, I digress; let’s get back to this salad.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

I can’t remember the exact moment when I first tried a roasted beet but it was well after my BK days. I just know that at some point I became a roasted beet fanatic. That discovery then led to me realize that I also love steamed beets, especially small beets. Their texture and flavor are well-suited to steaming.  In the notes section below you will find cooking directions for steaming, roasting, and microwaving beets. Yes, microwaving. Who knew? I tried the method listed below and it works well. But, I included all three methods because I wanted you to have a few options so you can pick your favorite cooking method.

Beets bring an earthy flavor and wonderful texture to salads. In this salad, I chose to use golden beets for a few reasons. Firstly, I prefer working with golden beets because my kitchen and I don’t end up looking like a crime scene which sometimes happens when working with red beets. Also, don’t the yellow beets look gorgeous with the orange segments and pieces of green pistachios? I can’t help it; I like my food to be colorful and coordinated.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Once your beets are cooked, this salad comes together in a snap. You could cook your beets ahead of time if you need to get dinner on the table quickly during the week or if you want to serve this salad as part of your menu for a dinner party.

The combination of the beets and beans gives this salad some heft making it a light and satisfying meal on its own. But, it can also be paired nicely with fish, chicken, or pork.

If you are a beet lover should also check out my recipe for beet gazpacho.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

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