A pretty asparagus and halloumi salad with strawberries and quinoa. Dressed with a simple balsamico vinaigrette, that wonderfully complements the strawberries and asparagus. The perfect lunch to enjoy when asparagus and strawberries are in season. The halloumi and quinoa give the extra nutrition that makes this salad a balanced dish.
Do you love having salad for lunch? I used to hate salad. As a side dish, I mean. When salad is just served as a side, it’s often very unappealing. Well at least for me, because I never really liked green leaves alone. And often that’s what you get: mixed greens and sometimes a bit of tomato or cucumber. I remember thinking how can people who have salad for lunch enjoy a whole meal of this? Then I learned what a “meal salad” was. And I was sold.
Salad skyrocketed in my personal food preferences to the point it became a thing I’d order at restaurants. I had become a person who eats a salad for lunch and is happy of her choice. Because I learned that in such salads green leaves are essentially the minority. Sometimes they’re barely even included! Instead, there is a whole wonderful multitude of delicious ingredients, like in this salad that features grilled halloumi, steamed asparagus, quinoa and fresh strawberries!
To make this asparagus and halloumi salad you will need:
- Green leaves of your choice – I went for mâche salad
- Asparagus – choose fresh stalks that are all about the same thickness for even cooking
- Strawberries – I was excited to feature the first Swedish strawberries of the year in this recipe
- Quinoa – I chose red quinoa but any colour will do
- Halloumi – or any halloumi-style cheese that you can grill
- Salt, olive oil, balsamico vinegar and honey – to use as condiment
How to make this salad
In this halloumi asparagus salad some ingredients need to be cooked, so start by taking care of those first. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of water to a saucepan and set on medium heat. Keep covered until it boils, then allow the steam out through a small opening in the lid. Cook until all the water has been evaporated or absorbed by the quinoa.
Clean and trim the woody ends of the asparagus. Cut them in shorter pieces and add them to a pot filled with a little water and fitted with a steamer basket. Set the pot on medium-high heat and steam the asparagus until tender. It should take about 10 minutes, which is also more or less the time it takes for the quinoa to cook, so it’s good to take care of these two at the same time. When done, sprinkle some salt over the hot asparagus.
While the quinoa cooks and the asparagus steams, take care of the raw ingredients. If you are using mâche salad like I did, you may want to trim off the little root ends, in order to separate the leaves. I find it easiest to use scissors. I hold the root end between two fingers and with the other hand I clip off the leaves. Next, clean the strawberries and proceed to cut them in 4 or 6 pieces, depending on their size.
When the quinoa and the asparagus are ready, place both pans in a cold water bath to speed up their cooling time. I usually do that in the sink. Don’t forget to drain the water from the steaming pot first. While these two are cooling, you can start warming up a grill pan on high heat. When the pan is hot, lower the heat to medium-high and place halloumi slices in the pan. Grill them on both sides for about 2-3 minutes.
While the halloumi is grilling, there is one last thing to take care of: the dressing. In a small jar combine the olive oil, balsamico vinegar and honey and shake to mix. If the honey is very dense it might be helpful to liquefy it by warming it quickly (10 seconds in the microwave are usually enough). These three ingredients have different densities and keep separated when not shaken.
Get two serving bowls. Divide the salad leaves and the quinoa between the two and mix to combine. Add steamed asparagus and quartered strawberries to both bowls. Next place the grilled halloumi slices on one side of the bowl. Last, give dressing jar a vigorous shake and drizzle the condiment all over both salads. Serve while the halloumi is still warm.
If making this asparagus and halloumi salad in advance, take care of all the steps except for adding the dressing and grilling the halloumi. Halloumi tastes best freshly grilled so I would recommend to take care of this just before serving the salad. You can make the dressing ahead, but keep it in the jar until it’s time to take the salad to the table. Green salad leaves may wilt way too quickly if a vinegar-based dressing is added too much in advance. Undressed, they will last longer.
This asparagus and halloumi salad is delicious and looks pretty, too. It features some ingredients that are in season in the late spring, making for a perfect recipe to make to enjoy what’s currently being harvested. If it’s warm enough, rather than using a grill pan you can even make your halloumi on the actual grill so you also get a lovely smokey flavour. And you can enjoy this salad in the lovely spring warmth, outdoors.
Asparagus and halloumi salad
Grilled halloumi salad with steamed asparagus and fresh strawberries on a bed of green leaves and cooked quinoa. Dressed with a simple balsamico vinaigrette.
- 100 g red quinoa
- 50 g mâche salad
- 7 asparagus stalks
- 100 g fresh strawberries
- 200 g halloumi cheese
- 10 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbso balsamico vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
Add the quinoa to a saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Cook covered on medium heat until it reaches boiling temperature, then allow a small opening for the steam to escape. Cook until all the water has been absorbed by the quinoa, then set the pan in a cold water bath to speed up cooling time.
Clean and trim woody end of asparagus stalks. Add them to a steamer basked and place in a pot with some water. Set on high heat and steam the asparagus for about 10 minutes or until tender. When done, remove remaining hot water and place the pot in a cold water bath to speed up cooling time. Add a sprinkle of salt to the warm asparagus.
Clean the strawberries and remove the leaves. Cut them in 4 or 6 pieces, depending on thir size.
Remove the roots from mâche salad leaves by holding the root end of each bunch between two fingers and clipping off the leaves (I used a pair of scissors). Discard root ends.
Set a grill pan on high heat and when hot place halloumi slices on it. Lower the heat to medium and grill 2-3 minutes per side.
Divide salad leaves and cooled quinoa between two bowls. Stir to mix. Add steamed asparagus and chopped strawberries to both bowls. Top with grilled halloumi slices.
In a small jar combine honey, olive oil and balsamico vinegar and shake vigorously. Drizzle contiment over both salads. If the honey is very dense it can be helpful to melt it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds before adding it to the jar.
This asparagus and halloumi salad can be made in advance, but I would recommend leaving the halloumi grilling as the last step to add just before serving. Same for the dressing: make it in the jar but drizzle it onto the salad just before taking it to the table.