After flavour, I consider texture to be the most important element of any recipe. This salad combines three layers of my favourite texture — crisply crunchy, preferably from being recently fried — to make something very simple but rather spectacular.
As the weather gets colder, it can start to feel like there’s literally nothing fresh and vegetable-like that’s in season, but happily potatoes and fennel both tend to be readily available at this time of year. And, oh halloumi, I swear I’ll never ever grow weary of its remarkable flavour — although admittedly I did say that about pesto in 2003. But for now, halloumi is so buttery and bulgingly almost-melting, with a crisp and golden surface, it makes everything more exciting.
The potato and fennel bring their own crispness, the potatoes fried to within an inch of their life and the fennel clean, fresh and raw, with a mild hint of aniseed. This salad started off as a recipe I invented for my blog, hungryandfrozen.com, but here I’ve expanded it to feed more and be easier to serve. A bowlful makes a fine meal on its own, but it would also be ideal as part of a larger feast, a pot-luck, or perhaps even a heedless early-winter barbecue.
Halloumi, fried potato and raw fennel salad
- 3 medium potatoes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 25g butter
- 8 thick slices of halloumi, cut in half crosswise to make sixteen squarish pieces
- 1 lemon
1 Dice the potato finely — the smaller it is, the quicker it will cook.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and, once it’s very hot, tip in the diced potato.
- Fry the potatoes until crisp, stirring occasionally. It will probably take a good 10–15 minutes for the cubes to get properly golden and cooked through, but it’s vital not to rush this step. Depending on the size of your pan, it may be easier to do this step in two goes.
- Finely slice the fennel bulb and then slice any larger pieces in half lengthwise.
- Tip the fennel into a serving bowl, and stir in the potato once it’s ready.
- Heat the butter in the same pan, and fry your halloumi pieces until nicely golden brown on each side. Stir these into the serving dish.
- Zest the lemon, then squeeze its juice into the still-hot pan, so it melds with whatever buttery olive oil remains. Drizzle this over the salad along with the lemon zest, and give it one final stir. Serve immediately.
Serves 3–4 depending on what it is being served with
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