My neighbours gifted me a pair of enormous pomegranates amongst a basket of beautiful fruit and vegetables a couple of weeks ago, resulting in some delicious pomegranate recipes on this blog. The crisp, ruby red seeds make a fantastic addition to so many recipes and today’s halloumi with pomegranate salsa is no exception, even making it onto the menu for mother’s day this weekend (shhh, don’t tell mum!).
Bernard is also 2 years old this weekend, so he’s not really a puppy any more, in fact, he hasn’t been an official puppy quite some time, but I don’t let that stop me from calling him ‘puppy’ at every opportunity. He still behaves like a puppy, bouncing around the park with the air of un-coordination in his leaps that puppies deliver in spades.
On his morning walk he innocently bounds up to every other dog within sight, shouting ‘PLAY’ with a couple of little barks (unless they’re proven grumps), before teasing and taunting them into playing chase. At this point the un-coordination disappears and he morphs into the most tactical and tricksy dog in the park. Whippets, Wolfhounds and Bedlington Terriers might be the quicker hound in a straight line sprint, but I’m yet to see another pooch turn around mid-sprint to run sideways, tauntingly looking his pursuer in the eye, before changing direction with a balletic sideways leap and mid air spin, adeptly making the switch from being chased, to doing the chasing. It’s a truly hilarious display to witness.
Finding Happiness in Life.
Watching dogs play chase is one of the most joyful things in life. Dogs retain the trait, often long lost in adults, to play simply for the sake of playing, rather than to win, distract themselves or ‘kill’ some time. It’s a skill that small children have, where they can become completely engrossed in the game as if it’s all that matters in life, utterly unconcerned with it’s outcome.
It’s an age before societal expectations, maturity and countless other psychological pressures begin to inhibit our sense of freedom. Puppies also have this pure happiness and a sense of wholeness in their submission to the game, expressing none of the self conscious anxiety that us big people have. Mature, sensible, earnest adults could learn a lot from how puppies play, or at the very least, try to envisage the joy of watching dogs play chase spread into your heart. It’s quite liberating.
Pomegranate and Mint Salsa.
Puppies playing has nothing to do with today’s recipe, but both things have made me quite happy recently. Grilled halloumi makes me very happy, because a plate of this grilled cypriot cheese, soft and luscious from the heat of the pan is one of life’s joys. If you ever prepare halloumi, you must, must, must eat it whilst it’s hot. A friend of mine calls it squeaky cheese, due to the squeakiness when you eat it. However, you only get the squeaks when it’s cold. The reason we grill or fry halloumi is to make it soft, and it should also be served and eaten hot, while it retains it’s soft, gentle, velveteen bite and warmth.
Topped with a large spoonful of sweet, minty, pomegranate salsa, this make a simply epic starter, one that grabs your eyes and follows up the visual promises with a soft, sweet flavour to counter the saltiness of the cheese. The crunchy seeds mingle with the warm, soft cheese and the whole effect is a positively fantastic forkful of grub. Enjoy.
Grilled Halloumi with Pomegranate Salsa
By Gavin Wren
Serves 3-4 as a starter
Uses a cast iron griddle pan or non-stick frying pan
150g pomegranate seeds
1 tablespoon lime juice
Quarter of a red onion, finely chopped
Half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3g (2 sprigs) mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of salt
A grind of pepper
250g halloumi, sliced (3 slices per person)
1 tablespoon olive oil, for the halloumi
Heat your griddle pan over a medium heat for 10 minutes then brush the pan with oil. Brush the halloumi with oil as well.
Get some warmed plates ready for service and the bowl of salsa nearby with a spoon in it.
Place the halloumi in the pan and leave for about 2 minutes, then swiftly, confidently run a spatula underneath and turn them. Sometimes they stick, which is why you need to be confident when you turn them. If you use a non-stick frying pan, you won’t have this issue. They should have nice grill marks, if not, you can turn them back and cook a while longer.
Cook the other side for 2-3 minutes. Swiftly put the halloumi on the plates and spoon over some salsa, then serve and gorge!