This recipe was recommended by my friend Megan who was owner-chef at the Palette Cafe at the Beaver Gallery in Canberra for over 20 years. It was my favourite lunch venue and I miss it, although Meg continues to serve wonderful food whenever we’re invited for dinner.
The recipe comes from Taste.com, a good source of online recipes which has stood the test of time. In the recipe they put the lentils, halloumi and mushrooms in the oven to roast. I changed the method slightly and cooked everything, apart from the lentils, in a frying pan. I think it gives you more control over getting the halloumi nice and golden brown. The recipe serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course.
4 large portobello mushrooms
250g halloumi cheese
1 can lentils, drained, rinsed and patted dry
Juice of 1 lemon
200g green beans
150g mixed small salad leaves and/or spinach leaves
2 tsp pink peppercorns
50g baby spinach leaves
25g parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup walnut halves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100ml olive oil
Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread out the lentils in a single layer. Roast for about 15 minutes, moving them around a couple of times, until they are evenly golden and crunchy. Remove from the oven and cool.
Place all ingredients for pesto except the oil in food processor. Process until chunky then add the oil through the feed chute with the motor running. Scrape into a small bowl.
Cook green beans in boiling salted water for 4 minutes or until lightly cooked. Not as well cooked as al dente but not as crunchy as when raw. Refresh under cold water, then pat dry.
Peel mushrooms and remove stalks. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes each side. Remove from pan and cut each mushroom into 3 or 4 slices. Add lemon juice to the mushroom juices left in the pan, mix then add to the salad greens with a pinch of salt. Mix well then arrange the salad on four serving plates (or two for a main course).
Wipe out the frying pan and add a tiny drizzle of oil. Pat halloumi dry then cut into slices. Fry on both sides until golden brown.
On top of the salad arrange the beans, the mushrooms and the halloumi. Garnish with the crispy lentils and the pink peppercorns, then drizzle each serving with some of the spinach pesto.
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main