This recipe was inspired by a trip to The Sussex Produce Company in Steyning (a small town in West Sussex). I love The Sussex Produce Company – it’s a real Aladdin’s Cave for foodies: a sort of greengrocer-cum-grocer, packed with lovely local cheeses, pies, breads, beers and wines, as well as lots of delicious-looking, local, fresh produce. At the back of the shop is a rustic, canteen-style café. The café has a great menu, full of interesting seasonal dishes, often made with local produce and definitely more adventurous than your average eatery.
My parents came to visit recently and we took them to The Sussex Produce Company for lunch and it was there I had this amazing warm salad. Now, I don’t normally go for salads in restaurants, I generally find them incredibly disappointing and usually prefer to have hot food when I’m eating out, but this one sounded delicious…I love squash, harissa and halloumi…plus it was billed as a warm salad, so I took a gamble and I was not disappointed. The salad was packed with lots of warm halloumi, a mix of squashes, some red onion and puy lentils, tossed in a harissa dressing and served on a bed of seasonal salad leaves. Serious foodie heaven!
I’ve adapted the salad slightly to make it easier to do at home. I’ve left out the puy lentils (just to make things simpler and quicker), used only butternut squash (I didn’t want to have lots of leftover bits of various squashes hanging around) and added in some roasted red pepper (as I was eating the salad in the café, I felt this was the one ingredient that was missing – it goes so well with the other ingredients) and I’m so pleased with the result. Delicious, sweet, roasted vegetables contrast really well with the salty halloumi and the tingly heat of the harissa.
To further simplify the salad, I went for a ready prepared bag of baby chard and baby spinach from the supermarket – it is my absolute favourite mix at the moment and goes really well with the other flavours. I love how the leaves gently wilt in the heat of the roasted vegetables and halloumi, yet still retain a little bit of crunch and add another delicious complementary flavour. If you wanted to make things even simpler, you could just use plain spinach and leave out the baby chard.
I find this salad filling enough not to need anything extra, but if you are in need of some carbs, serve with crusty bread or you could cook up a small portion of puy or green lentils, as the original salad from The Sussex Produce Company had in it.
One word of caution: do be careful with the harissa paste, it can vary enormously in strength. For this recipe I used Tesco Ingredients Harissa Paste, which is medium heat strength and I found 1 tablespoon to be the perfect amount to give a gentle heat to this dish, without overpowering the flavours, but if you are not sure about the strength of your harissa paste try less to start with and add more if you want to increase the heat.
Warm Butternut Squash, Harissa and Halloumi Salad
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 500 g butternut squash roughly half a large butternut squash, cut into thick strips
- 1 red pepper cut into thick strips
- 1 red onion cut into wedges
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 250 g halloumi cheese sliced
- 50 g baby salad leaves such as baby chard and spinach
Preheat the oven to 200C. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil into a roasting tin. Tip the slices of squash, red pepper and red onion into the tray and turn in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper
Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile make a simple marinade for the halloumi by combining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of harissa, 1 tablespoon of honey and the juice of half a lemon. Chop the halloumi into thick slices and marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
After the vegetables have been roasting, add in the halloumi and tip the marinade over the vegetables and cheese. Roast for a further 10 minutes.
To serve, make a bed of baby salad leaves and arrange the halloumi cheese and vegetables over the top. Drizzle over the juices and serve just as it is or with a glass of white wine and some crusty white bread.