Looking at the fresh local asparagus in the market this past weekend I was reminded that the end of the season must soon be at hand and with it my annual mad dash to incorporate asparagus into my recipes again after almost taking its availability for granted in just a little over a month.
For those of you who have contributed to Holler's and my No Croutons Required food roundups, your wonderful suggestions have not gone unappreciated … this little lunchtime saganaki and asparagus plate is directly inspired by the grilled halloumi and asparagus salad that Maybelle's Mom submitted for Holler's cheese salad event the other month. Even before the roundup was posted I knew I was going to have to do something with this idea, given my newfound love for halloumi cheese and the perfection with which lemon dresses both the cheese and asparagus. Add on the fact that it was less than fifteen minutes between pulling the ingredients out of the refrigerator and putting the finished product on plates, and there's no question that this is now one of my favourite early summer salads.
Fried Halloumi Saganaki and Asparagus
1/2 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
juice from 1 lemon
zest from 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh ground black pepper
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. Steam lightly for 3-4 minutes until the asparagus is a rich green colour, just tender but still crisp.
Meanwhile heat a large frying pan over just higher than medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Arrange the halloumi slices in the pan, trying to avoid touching, and fry until browned on the bottom. Use tongs to turn the cheese over and fry the other side until browned. While still in the pan, drizzle half of the lemon juice and scatter the lemon zest and oregano over the cheese, and finish with a good seasoning of fresh ground black pepper.
Remove the cheese from the pan and arrange between two plates. Scatter slices of radish around the cheese and dress with the spears of asparagus. Drizzle the remaining lemon juice over the plates and serve.