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out of the frying pan: roast carrot, green lentil and tomato salad with haloumi

I remember a time growing up when I was under the impression that the only available ingredients for bulking up or basing a meal around were rice and pasta, or the occasional boiled, baked or mashed potato. They were certainly the most readily available means in the nineties for making a meal go a little bit further and providing more sources of protein, carbohydrates and energy.

When I was a kid my parents used to come home thrilled at the discovery of polenta or couscous in the aisles of our local Coles or Woolies, and enthusiastically experiment with red lentils in curries and Dahl with varying levels of success.

Now it’s possible to walk into just about any given prominent supermarket and be able to easily find a huge number of grains and pulses to spice up a meal. Polenta, couscous, pearl couscous, brown rice, red and green lentils, two dozen different kinds of pasta, chia seeds, and even quinoa, albeit expensively.

A favourite of mine is the humble lentil, and in leaner times I’ve just about lived off a simple Dahl recipe containing nothing more than red lentils, tomato, green chillies and various spices.  They’re the kind of pulse with a delicious enough nutty flavour to be dressed up or allowed to stand on their own and they’re an incredible source of protein and fibre.

This salad is a cheap, relatively quick and easy dish to prepare and cook, and is filling enough to stand as a main or a side dish. Delicious served with grilled lamb, on good quality toasted bread, with a fried or poached egg, or as I’ve done below, with some more yummy vegetarian protein in the form of haloumi cheese.

Ingredients

This salad can either be served warm or cold, but given the growing hot weather I’m giving instructions for serving it cold.

1 cm slices of haloumi (as many as you’d like for each serve, but personally I’d prepare 4 per person)
1 cup French green lentils, prepared as per packet instructions
1 punnet (around 20) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ a red onion, finely diced
olive oil for frying the halloumi

Roast Carrots

2-3 medium sized carrots, washed and cut into eight finger sized sticks
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon

Dressing

1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Arrange carrot sticks in a baking tray and add oil, honey, cumin and lemon juice, and toss until coated.  Bake in the oven for thirty minutes or so, or until they’re just getting soft. You can bake them for longer if you like, but I like them to retain a little crunch. Allow to cool and cut into smaller, more bite sized pieces.

3. Cook the lentils per packet instructions. This usually just involves simmering in a few cups of water for 20-30 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

4. Combine lentils and carrot in a bowl, and add halved tomatoes, chopped parsley, and diced red onion.

5. In a small jar or bowl combine all the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the salad, tossing well until coated.

6. Lightly flour each slice of haloumi and fry in a little olive oil until lightly golden. Allow to drain on absorbent paper.

7. Serve haloumi slices over servings of the salad with extra parsley and dressing if you desire.

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