Hello Fun Seekers

The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Ingredient: maple syrup

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

Maple Walnut Crostini

Maple Walnut Crostini with Goat Cheese-2Note: This post contains affiliate links*

Crostini are always on my appetizer short-list when I am planning a party. For those that aren’t sure, crostini are an Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread with toppings. Crostini are great appetizers because you can toast the bread and make the toppings ahead of time. As the holiday season is upon us, I wanted to incorporate some seasonal flavors into the topping. Thus, the Goat Cheese and Maple Walnut Crostini was born!

Let me lay down the process of making these crostini for you. First, you are going to make a batch of maple walnuts. You can do this step a few days in advance of when you want to serve the crostini. To make the maple walnuts, you will combine butter and maple syrup with spices. After adding the walnuts you will stir to coat and the sauce is reduced. You will want to cool the walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Be careful transferring the walnuts from the pan to the baking sheet. They are hot! I speak from experience.

Maple Walnut Crostini with Goat Cheese-2

The second step is to slice the Chiogga beets very thinly. Chioggas are sometimes called candy cane beets, not because of their flavor but because of their beautiful red and white striped interior. You can peel and slice the beets the day before you plan to serve the crostini. If Chiogga beets are your thing (as they are mine) you may want to check out my Smoked Salmon Beet Bites too.

If you have a mandoline, slicing the beets very thinly is a snap. I love, love, love my mandoline (to be clear, I am talking about a Japanese-style slicing tool not the musical instrument). I use it all the time when I need food sliced very thinly or very evenly or both! The XOX Brand Mandolin is my favorite. It is super affordable, dishwasher-safe, and easy to store. A word of caution: the V-shaped blade in mandolins are very sharp and you should always use the included food holder to protect your fingers from the blade. Again, I learned this the hard way. Twice.

The last do-ahead tip I want to share is to make the crostini up to three days before you want to serve them. I typically buy a baguette for crostini. I like the small size of the bread. It is the perfect bite. Slice your baguette into about 1/2’’ slices. Drizzle the slices of baguette with olive oil and a sprinkle or salt and pepper.

You can either make your crostini on the grill or under the broiler. Whichever way you decide to make your crostini, be sure to keep your eye on them. They can go from just about there to burnt mess in no time at all.

How to Make Goat Cheese and Maple Walnut Crostini

Once you have all your components ready, you just need to assemble the crostini shortly before you want to serve. Place crostini on a platter, place one slice of Chiogga beet on the crostini, top with a dollop or slice of goat and top with a maple walnut. I recommend taking the goat cheese out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to prepare the crostini.

Maple Walnut Crostini pin

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Winter Squash & Havarti Puffs

Winter Squash and Havarti Puffs

A neighbor once told me that she had never met anyone who pleasure read cookbooks before she met me. She made that comment years before blogs and the internet were a thing.  I wonder what she would think if she knew how much time I spent perusing food blogs these days. There are a ton of really, really good ones. I mean they not only have delicious-looking recipes but also breath-taking photographs.

This recipe is inspired by the Kabocha and Havarti Pocket recipe on the I Will Not Eat Oysters blog. I was practically drooling when I saw the photos she posted.  Plus, who doesn’t love roasted squash at this time of year? It’s so seasonal, baby!

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsI have been actively seeking out recipes using winter squash because my friend Laraine had a bumper crop of winter squash this year and generously shared her harvest with me. I used a buttercup squash for this recipe but you could substitute butternut, red kuri, or kabocha squash too.  The process will be the same regardless of which squash you chose. You will want to use a really sharp knife to cut through the hard skin of the winter squash. I quartered the squash and scraped out the seeds and strings. If you use butternut squash you will only need to cut it in half lengthwise instead of quarters.

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsAnother modification that I made to the recipe was to add a bit of heat to the roasted squash filling. I added chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper, and a little drizzle of maple syrup. I thought the sweetness of the squash and creaminess of the Havarti could stand up to the additional spices. I am happy to report that the result was delicious! In keeping with the fall flavors I also used apple cider vinegar instead of the champagne vinegar called for in the original recipe.

Winter Squash and Havarti PuffsThese tasty little treats are super versatile too. You can make small puffs which are perfectly-sized appetizers which can be eaten in two bites. Or, you can make larger puffs and serve them as an entree. I would pair the larger puffs with a salad and crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Winter Squash and Havarti Puffs

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