beluga lentil salad with halloumi croutons

This quick, easy, impressive beluga lentil salad is made with salty, chewy halloumi croutons to take it to the next level.

Lentil salad with cubes of halloumi and halved tomatoes on a white plate

Although we eat salads year round – as I suspect most of you do as well – I find this last push from winter to spring to be particularly uninspiring. Yes, you can buy bags of greenhouse-grown baby greens, and you can by plastic clamshells of tomatoes grown on the vine (I always fall for those – is it just some genius marketing move by the tomato people? Am I a sucker?) and you can buy avocados that have been shipped half way around the globe.

All of that is great (also totally not great), but what I really want this time of year is that fresh, springy, grassy flavour that you just can’t put in a shipping container. It’s like the smell of freshly cut grass, but in a salad.

You know what I mean?

So here’s what we do while we’re waiting. We switch gears. We construct our salads of things like lentils and capers and cubes of hot, chewy, salty halloumi cheese. And yes, we compromise on bagged baby greens and cherry tomatoes in a plastic clamshell, but I think you’ll find it’s well worth it.

Overhead shot of beluga lentil salad with halloumi, capers, and cherry tomatoes on a wooden background

Let’s talk about this Beluga Lentil Salad with Halloumi Croutons!

The star of the show is beluga lentils, gently simmered with onion, garlic, and a bay leaf, then tossed with red wine vinegar and a bit of salt. Big spoonfuls of the lentils go down on a bed of peppery arugula, and get surrounded by cherry tomatoes (which, if you’re going to go for indoor tomatoes at this time of year, I think are the way to go in terms of flavour).

Then, little cubes of panfried halloumi, salty and crispy on the outside, soft and squeaky on the inside, make the perfect croutons for this salad. A sprinkle of capers and a drizzle of your good balsamic and your best olive oil finish the whole thing off.

And the thing is, if you cook the lentils ahead of time, which is just a matter of throwing a few things into a pot and being present to check on it for 20-30 minutes, the salad comes together in a flash. All is left is cubing the halloumi, a couple of minutes of frying, and you can pull together plated salads in under five minutes.

I encourage you to not only cook the lentils ahead of time, but to cook twice the volume as I’ve called for here (the recipe is for 4 portions). The lentils are delicious on their own, and you’ll find all kinds of ways to use them throughout the week, even if just eating spoonfuls right from the container as you’re standing in front of an open fridge.

Hey Nutrition Lady, what’s the deal with halloumi cheese? Glad you asked, folks! Halloumi is a semi-firm unripened brined cheese from Cyprus made from a mixture of goat, and sheep, and cows milk. It has a high melting point so it can be pan fried or grilled and does not fall apart. If you can’t find Halloumi (check specialty food stores or Greek markets) then cubed and pan fried feta would be a good substitute.

What about beluga lentils? Beluga lentils are little, round, black, firm lentils. They’re called beluga lentils because they look a bit like beluga caviar. If you can’t find beluga lentils, another small firm lentil such a Puy lentils would work just fine.

And a note on cooking lentils: it’s taken me a while to perfect the art of cooking firm little lentils like these. The trick is a quick boil, a gentle simmer, and a keen eye. They can go from not quite ready to perfect to mush really quickly if you’re not careful. And while mushy lentils are great in some situations (like this lentil loaf) this is not one of them.

beluga lentil salad with cherry tomatoes, capers, and halloumi cheese on a wooden table with a white napkin in the background

Other lentil recipes you might enjoy:
beluga lentil salad with halloumi croutons // the muffin myth
5 from 2 votes
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Beluga Lentil Salad with Halloumi Croutons

This quick, easy, impressive beluga lentil salad is made with salty, chewy halloumi croutons to take it to the next level. 

Course Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 439 kcal
Author Katie Trant

Ingredients

  • 1 cup beluga lentils rinsed well
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion peeled, but root intact
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz arugula leaves about 4 cups
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 8 oz halloumi cheese cubed
  • 4 tablespoons capers drained well
  • your best olive oil and balsamic for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Check the lentils over for stones and give them a good rinse, then set them in a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 an onion, the smashed garlic clove, and the bay leaf. 

  2. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid ajar for about 20 minutes.

  3. Start checking the lentils at around the 15 min mark and check every few minutes after that. The lentils should be just barely tender, and still slightly toothsome. 

  4. When the lentils are done, fish out the onion, garlic clove, and bay leaf, and drain well. 

  5. Place the lentils in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar, and a little salt.

  6. Stir, then let stand for 5-10 minutes. Give the lentils a taste and decide if you want to use the rest of the oil and vinegar (I usually do). 

  7. Set aside, or refrigerate if you're not making the salad immediately.

  8. Scatter four salad plates with arugula. Place 1/4 of the lentils into the center of each plate, and then drop the cherry tomatoes into place.

  9. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

  10. Place the cubed halloumi into the pan, and fry, turning often, until they are lightly golden brown. 

  11. Immediately distribute the halloumi croutons amongst the four plates, then top each with 1 Tbsp of capers.

  12. Drizzle each plate with a small amount of your best olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of freshly ground pepper.

  13. Serve, and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Beluga Lentil Salad with Halloumi Croutons
Amount Per Serving
Calories 439 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 32%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Sodium 935mg 39%
Potassium 487mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 34g 11%
Dietary Fiber 12g 48%
Sugars 5g
Protein 27g 54%
Vitamin A 38.5%
Vitamin C 47.5%
Calcium 70.7%
Iron 31.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Recipe Originally Published February 2013 

 

 



 

Comments

  1. I know that brain-mush feeling all too well, at least you can eat a delicious salad while you’re waiting for the madness to subside.

  2. If this is what you do in a slump, can I be similarly ‘afflicted’? I haven’t had halloumi in ages and this looks a pretty & delicious way to have it in moderation, although I am more of a slab girl than croutons girl with said Cypriot cheese. Too damn tasty for its own good

    • Too darn tasty indeed! And I’ve definitely been known to take down big slabs of halloumi (especially fresh off the barbecue) which are decadent and delicious. The little croutons really do the trick here, though. A little goes a long way.

  3. I’ve been having trouble focusing lately too. I feel like there’s a little hamster in my brain that won’t stop running on its wheel. (I swear, I’m not crazy!) Lentils are one of my favorite foods–I’ve never had halloumi, but I’m going to have to look for it so I can make this!

  4. I have so much trouble cooking lentils properly, but I think you’ve pointed me in the direction of the problem – too hard of a boil. I keep doing this with black beans as well and they turn out pretty mushy, but I’m so darn impatient about cooking those little guys! We can easily get halloumi here and it’s become one of my favorite cheeses to cook with. Yours look so nicely browned though…need to work on that as well.

    • Wow, you can easily get halloumi in Bangkok? I’m impressed! Lentils are tough to get perfect, I’ve only just figured it out. I still can’t get black beans quite right. The water here is pretty hard and they always come out with a bit of crunch left on them. Oh and the halloumi croutons? Burned on the other side. Don’t tell anyone!

  5. This salad sounds great! And I was just looking at the halloumi in the grocery store the other day, wondering what I could do with it. I think I know what to do with it now!

  6. I’ve never, ever thought to pan fry halloumi, but that’s definitely something I’ll be remedying soon. What a genius idea to use the cubes in place of the croutons! This salad is brilliant, I cant wait to try it! Sorry to hear about the mushy brain situation … I hate the chasing-my-tail feeling. I hope your ladies night offered a bit of a break, at least. Hang in there!!

    • If you’ve never thought to pan fry it, what have you been doing with it before? Grilling? Or eating it un cooked? Either way, it’s super delish. But definitely try this out!

  7. I saw this recipe on Foodgawker (I think). Made it with canned lentils and no tomatoes (forgot to get them at the store) and it was still totally awesome.

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