This time of year takes me back to Passover of childhood, when the wafts of the holiday’s spicy aroma of a big pot of lamb soup permeated every corner of the house. If I ever gave up on vegetarianism, it would be for roasted leg of lamb. Till then, grilled Haloumi cheese is a satisfying substitute. With Passover approaching, I limit my food shopping in anticipation of cleaning up my kitchen in preparation for the holiday. Luckily I was able to concoct one of our favorite dishes for dinner from items in my pantry and refrigerator—delicious combination of Israeli couscous, sauteed Haloumi, sun-dried tomato, and spinach, topped with fresh cilantro, lemon peel, and lemon juice. When your 12-year-old asks for thirds, you know you have got something good in your pot.
Many are unsure about what to do with Haloumi cheese. I developed this recipe several years ago and it is usually received with much enthusiasm. I usually make this dish with bulgur, or cracked wheat. At times I substitute quinoa to raise the protein content of the dish. This time I used leftover Israeli couscous I had from Friday night dinner. I also added wilted spinach for the first time. The dish is very simple to make and it is very tasty.
I combined the following ingredients.
Israeli couscous. I like to first saute diced 1/2 onion in olive oil before I add the couscous and saute it, too. Trader Joe’s sales it in a box. Just follow the instructions on the box. I used the equivalent of two boxes. The grains of this pasta tend to clump together. To warm it up, separate the grains with a fork, add a bit of water to the pot, mix everything and then heat up. Make sure to stir several times to prevent sticking.
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and 1/2 a jar of Sun-dried tomato in oil, sold at Trader Joe’s.
Haloumi cheese. Cube the cheese and slowly braise in a hot pan, without oil, till all liquids evaporate and the cheese turns golden brown. Keep on a low flame and keep turning cheese.
Fresh Spinach. Sweat 3-4 cups, or more, in a hot pan till leaves are partially wilted. No need to add anything.
Lemon…gently grate peel and squeeze juice of one half a lemon, or to taste.
Mix all ingredients and serve.
You could use mint in addition to the cilantro, or instead. You can use different grains, such as rice. Experiment. See which ingredients you like best. Have fun with it. It is delicious as is, though.
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©2011 by Tribes-a-Dozen
©2011 by Tribes-a-Dozen