There are two things my teenage sons adore: halloumi cheese, and beef fillet. They are their mother's sons, they are, because I too could eat both every day, with merry abandon, and for breakfast if necessary. But times are tight, and we don't have that sort of budget, so here's a simple recipe that uses a modest amount of both these wonderful ingredients, stretching them into a filling salad with lots of fresh green leaves, and crusty bread on the side.
The first time I made this salad (and photographed it) I coated the outside of the halloumi with black pepper. The second time, I peppered the beef, but you can do either, or leave the pepper out altogether.
To avoid the halloumi turning limp or leathery, it needs to be fried at the very last minute. Please see this post for tips about buying and frying halloumi, which tends to be a most temperamental cheese.
Halloumi and Carpaccio Salad with Fried Capers
600 g beef fillet
freshly milled black pepper
4 T (60 ml) olive oil or sunflower oil
40 capers, drained of their brine
fresh rocket, or similar green leaves; enough for six
one 300 g block of halloumi cheese, patted dry and cut into large cubes
1 T (15 ml) cornflour (cornstarch)
For the dressing:
4 T (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 T (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and light vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
salt and freshly milled black pepper
a pinch of caster sugar
Trim the beef fillet, cutting away any silvery skin. Rub a little olive oil over the surface of the meat. Grind plenty of black pepper onto a chopping board, and roll the fillet back and forth over the pepper, so all sides are well coated. Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the oil in a frying pan. When the oil is very hot, but not quite smoking, add the fillet and brown it quickly on all sides. This should take just a few minutes, and the beef should remain quite raw on the inside. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside to cool.
Now make the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a small jug and whisk well. Don't add too much salt, as the halloumi cheese is quite salty in its own right.
Wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper and add the remaining two tablespoons of oil. Pat the capers quite dry. When the oil is hot, add the capers and fry for a minute or so, or until they open into crisp little flowers. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen paper.
Arrange the salad leaves on a large platter. Finely slice the beef fillet into slim leaves or strips, and arrange them over the salad. (It isn't easy to produce wafer-thin slices, but do your best with a very sharp knife. Or, flatten them between two pieces of clingfilm using a rolling pin. Alternatively, you can place the beef in the freezer for half an hour, which will make it easier to slice.)
Just before you're going to serve the salad, lightly dust the halloumi cubes with cornflour. Reheat the oil in a pan and, when it is hot, fry the cheese cubes, in batches, until golden brown and crusty. You may need to add more oil as you go along. (For tips on frying halloumi cheese, click here)
Drain the cubes on kitchen paper and scatter them over the top of the salad, along with the fried capers. Pour the dressing over the salad, or pass it round in a separate jug.
Serve with plenty of bread.