|Basil and Tomato with Seared Haloumi|
Early summer’s kale, swiss chard, lettuce and garden peas are making way for tomatoes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, garlic and squash in my little garden plot. For someone who loves autumn and all its bounty this is a welcome transition. It is drawing to the close of summer, and all that time spent digging in the dirt under the hot, unwavering summer sun has paid off. Armfuls of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables are ready for their moment to shine. The plethora of summer’s bounty, beautiful in its grandeur and vibrant splashes of colour, can be overwhelming to even the seasoned cook. How can you enjoy the abundance of fresh produce without canning it or eating the same old recipes time and time again? Our cookbooks, other blogs and any number of sources are inspiration for an abundance of unique and creative recipes which give us new ways to relish and rediscover those late summer gifts from the garden.
Tomatoes, those ambiguous fruits, are finally showing up by the armful. Freshly harvested tomatoes, still warm from the late summer sun, exemplify the vegetable harvest for this home gardener. I have been daydreaming all summer of those sweet, sun-ripened tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colours. Early Sunday morning I picked several vine-ripened beauties along with a handful of sweet basil. All afternoon I impatiently anticipated my first bite into their firm skin imagining their sweet juices running down my chin. Recipe ideas swirled through my mind, and I skimmed many a website showcasing delicious displays of homegrown tomatoes of every stripe. I practically skipped into my condo ready to share my exuberance for late summer bounty with a simple recipe. This satisfied my cravings with the salty haloumi cheese from Cyprus balanced with some ground sumac, a berry with a tangy lemon flavour in the tomato salad. These tomatoes shone brighter than any other this week.
**Basil and Tomato with Seared Haloumi**
2 x 250g pieces of haloumi cheese
half a small red onion, thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
½ cup basil leaves, torn
2 heaping teaspoons sumac
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
flour for dusting
4 tablespoons olive oil
juice of half a lemon
Cut the haloumi into 2cm thick slices. In a small bowl combine the onion, tomatoes, basil and sumac. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar and mix lightly. Set aside.
Lightly dust the cheese in flour shaking off the excess. Pour olive oil into a non-stick or heavy based pan and heat to medium high. Lightly fry the slices of haloumi quickly until golden on both sides. Remove to a platter.
Squeeze some lemon juice over top. Scatter the salad over top and serve immediately.