CHAR-GRILLED ASPARAGUS, COURGETTE AND HALOUMI SALAD
(serves 4 - 6)

As well as being colourful and attractive, this salad is packed with intense flavours and could easily be served as a starter with crusty bread. 

Ingredients:

350g cherry tomatoes, halved
140ml olive oil
coarse sea salt and black pepper
24 asparagus spears
2 large courgettes
200g haloumi (original recipe calls for manouri), sliced 0.5cm thick
25g rocket

FOR THE BASIL OIL:
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25g basil leaves
a pinch of salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Toss the tomatoes together with three tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them out, skin-side down, on a baking tray lined with parchment or foil and roast in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, until semi-dried.  Set aside to cool.

Trim the woody bases off the asparagus with a vbegetable peeler and blanch in boiling water for four minutes.  Drain and immediately refresh in cold water until all vestiges of heat have gone.  Drain again, then transfer to a bowl and toss with two tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper.

Slice the courgettes very thinly lengthwise (a mandolin would be very useful for this job, or a vegetable peeler - I just used a large and very sharp knife and a steady hand!)  and dress with a tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper.

Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave for a few minutes until very hot. Grill the courgettes and asparagus, turning after a minute and making sure you have mice, clear char marks on all sides.  Remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Brush the remaining oil onto the griddle pan, lightly dust each haloumi slice with flour and fry the haloumi for 2-3 minutes per side, until there are clear griddle marks on both sides.  Drain on paper towels.

To make the basil oil, blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Arrange the rocket, vegetables and cheese in layers on a flat serving plate, showing off the contrasting shapes and colours.  Drizzle with as much basil oil as you like and serve.  With crusty bread, this would make a great starter, althbough ours was a substantial side dish for a roast chicken braai with friends.