This is just the sort of bowl of food I crave after a period of indulgence or zig-zig travelling – textural, colourful, every mouthful a different flavour. The fact that it is highly nutritious and exactly what my body needs is almost incidental.
If I have time I love to go to a chi-chi, upscale food market and inhale with my eyes and nose all of the colourful produce that inevitably spills from rustic woven baskets and hand-hewn wooden crates. I will read the smudged chalkboard signs, pick up (and sniff, and squeeze – gently) new seasons’ specimens, and basically lose all sense of perspective and bank balance, cramming as much of the rainbow as I can into my own basket. That creamy, tight-curded cauliflower; those misshapen and slightly ogre-like striped tomatoes; and certainly a scoop of Italian Nocellara del Belice olives (current savoury food crush).
I get rather giddy at my momentary poshness, if I am honest. Until I look down at my scruffy, supermarket-bought trainers and my un-manicured hands. “Ach well”, as we say in Scotland.
But for this salad there wasn’t a collision of worlds: I picked up everything I needed at an ordinary grocery store. Yep, the freekeh, the fat, red, spring onions, the mini sweet potatoes and the chilli halloumi.
While Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda are not quite the sensory experience of, say Whole Foods (all of those delicious testers!) or – here in Edinburgh – Earthy, these days all but the smallest outlets of the major supermarkets will have at least a flavour of what is on offer at the the more wallet-straining shops. And you don’t have to be ashamed of your shoes.
In addition to a veritable rainbow of vegetables, this salad bowl features a dressing I make A LOT. Mainly to dress my Brazilian black bean salad that I prepare for work, but also to drizzle over pan-fried tofu or white fish, then eaten with chewy grains and silky cooked greens. It’s a proper South American and Cuban flavour combination – lime, orange, oregano, cumin, olive oil. What pushes this whole thing into proper delicious territory (in my opinion) is one particular ingredient – toasted cumin seeds. I am a huge fan of toasting and grinding both cumin and fennel seeds and chucking them in any likely dish, and salads are no exception. I do use pre-ground stuff for some things, but what a difference it makes to nearly any dish to take that little step of toasting the already fragrant seeds in a hot pan and grinding the slightly smoking, heady result in a pestle and mortar. A world of difference. In this rainbow bowl the pungent cumin nails the necessary earthy note to a tee.
And speaking of tees, I had a hole in mine the last time I went to the posh food market. And I knew about it before I went in. I guess I’m not ready to be a full-time fancy lady. Which is fine by me.
Halloumi and Freekeh Roasted Rainbow Bowl
If you don’t have everything here but still want to make this salad, just go for it anyway – you can’t lose with this dressing. Cauliflower, podded broad beans, cubes of aubergine, boats of chicory – all would be grand in this salad. You can change out the halloumi too – crumbles of feta or goat’s cheese, toasted cashews and almonds, fried tofu, grilled chicken or prawns. Enjoy xx
Juice and zest of half a large lime
Juice and zest of half a satsuma or small orange
1 large fat garlic clove, peeled and finely minced and crushed (for maximum nutritional impact, let this sit out for 10 minutes before making the dressing. Here’s the science on this handy garlic nutrition tip)
1/2 tsp grated fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
A few grinds of black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted in a hot pan until fragrant then crushed in a pestle and mortar
About 75ml best extra virgin olive oil, divided use
1/2 tsp preserved lemon, finely chopped – optional
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into wedges (about 12) OR 4-5 red, fat spring onions (available from Tesco just now), cut into quarter lengths (or regular spring onions)
200g Tenderstem broccoli, trimmed OR broad-headed broccoli, cut into long lengths, peeling the stem as needed (the stem is much sweeter than the florets)
1 medium sweet potato or three-four mini sweet potatoes
1 ear of sweetcorn, de-silked, kernels cut from the cob (may use frozen, defrosted)
200g cooked freekeh OR quinoa, buckwheat, spelt or barley – room temperature or slightly warmed
Palmful of dried barberries* OR lemon juice-soaked raisins
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
100g chilli halloumi or plain halloumi, sliced into thinnish planks (no thicker than 1/4 inch)
50g (more if liked) pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry pan until they begin to pop
A handful of rocket or other spicy leaves, like watercress or mizuna (not shown)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. For the dressing, whisk together all but the oil and the preserved lemon, if using. Gradually whisk in 50ml of the oil so that the dressing thickens; stir in the preserved lemon. Set aside for now.
3. Now, depending on what sweet potatoes you use, either cut into rounds or 1-inch dice. Place on a baking tray and rub with about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the oil. Place in the oven to roast for about 15 minutes.
4. Rub a bit of the remaining oil on the onion and broccoli until just lightly coated. Put on another baking tray and into the oven to roast, until just coloured and softened – about 12 minutes. A little crispines on the floret ends of the broccoli is fine – and tastes great too.
5. While the veg are in the oven, heat an enamelled cast iron skillet or non-stick saute pan. When medium-hot, add the corn to the pan and dry-cook the kernels, stirring frequently, until browned in places and smelling like popcorn (!); decant into a bowl. Now add the halloumi slices to the pan (add a touch of oil if the pan is cast iron) and heat until the undersides are golden; flip and go for golden again. The cheese can go from a bit flabby and white to very golden in almost the blink of an eye, so watch the pan.
6. Time to assemble! Mix together the freekeh or other cooked grains, all vegetables and the barberries, along with the dressing. Slide the salad into a serving bowl, top with halloumi and toasted pumpkin seeds, and serve. Add some lemon slices if you like, to squeeze over.
* barberries are tiny little berries associated with Middle Eastern cooking that are like “tangy, lemony raisins”. This Guardian article tells us more.
FYI, nearly all of the ingredients in this recipe are on many respected “anti-cancer foods” lists. But eat these foods – and this salad – because you love them, not necessarily because they are extra good for you.
A few “Meal Salads” from Food To Glow
Loaded Cauliflower “Couscous” Salad with Roasted Turmeric Chickpeas
And some from others
** If you are reading this on the site Low Cal Easy Recipes, this is published without my permission and against my express wishes. **