Feeling It

Lentil and Rhubarb Salad with Fried Halloumi

lentil, rhubarb, halloumi

Feeling completely myself, I am not. But I’m working hard to fix that (overdoing it, probably), and I’ve unearthed a little bit of the old me. I’ve missed it.

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent from this space. Or maybe you haven’t. I mean, I’m not Smitten Kitchen here. But I had checked out. I haven’t read your blogs either.

It bothers me when blog authors (well, the ones who don’t make money from their blogs) apologize for being absent. It bothers me not because I find it arrogant, but because no one should have to apologize for something that’s not his/her job. I guess I’m good at looking after others’ mental health; my own is a different story. So I’m not apologizing, but I’m being honest about the absence because, yeah, I’ve not been feeling well; yeah, I’ve been dealing with “stuff”; yeah, I’ve been a little stressed. But, really, most weekends went by without me developing and testing new recipes and documenting it, because I just didn’t feel like it. I don’t ever want to come to this space if I’m not feeling it.

lentil rhubarb salad

The problem isn’t that I haven’t been here, it’s why. Why haven’t I felt like doing it? “You can stop, you know?” “I don’t want to!” Then why are you too tired, too lazy, too interested in doing other things, too *humph*, to just do it?

I don’t know. And why do I suddenly have this feverish desire to come back? Is it guilt? I hope not. I don’t think so. I think it’s because I really fucking love this stuff. And the produce is coming. You know this girl likes her produce.

halloumi cheese
So, heyo! I’m here. I’m more present. And I think I’ll stay awhile, if you’ll have me.

It seems a bit symbolic to come back, to start over, on a late Spring note, with a very springy recipe. It’s the feel-good food I love paired with a bit of naughty. But it’s satisfying naughty, and anything naughty is acceptable when satisfying. My love for bitterness and brashness has me looking to add rhubarb to savory recipes every year, and this hit the spot. The richness of the crispy-edged, melty-centered, salty, pan-fried Halloumi cheese does a fine fine job of taming the brightly-dressed rhubarb; it’s an antidote to the rhubarb’s scene-stealing ego.

lentils and halloumi

Lentil and Rhubarb Salad with Fried Halloumi
Serves 4-6

The oven-cooking method for the lentils is borrowed from Cook’s Illustrated. Ever since I made the lentil salad in 2011, I haven’t cooked them another way. No more unevenly cooked lentils. I used TK lentils from TK for this recipe. De Puy lentils work great too. Avoid standard green lentils.

1 cup small green lentils, rinsed
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 Leek, light green and white parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and washed.
2 long rhubarb stalks, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup torn or roughly chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slabs, patted dry, and frozen for 15 minutes
Thinly sliced radish, for garnish

1. Combine lentils and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Add 4 cups warm water (110 degrees) and let lentils soak for 1 hour. Drain lentils. (Drained lentils can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking.)

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees combine lentils, 4 cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt in medium saucepan. Bake, covered, until lentils are cooked through (but not falling apart), 40 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch cast iron (or other nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Add leek and season with salt and pepper to taste; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until leek begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add rhubarb to pan, increase heat to medium-high, spread vegetables in even layer, and cook until one side turns golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer leek-rhubarb mixture to bowl; set aside. Whisk ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and pepper flakes (if using) together in bowl or liquid measuring cup; set aside.

4. Coat 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat until just smoking. Carefully add cheese slabs and cook until browned on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds per side.

5. Drain lentils and toss with dressing in large bowl. Fold in herbs and rhubarb-leek mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top portions with fried halloumi and serve.

9 responses

  1. I know exactly what you mean. On every level. I hate the apologies and yet I find myself feeling the need to make them on our lately rather ignored blog. Who cares? Other than: Good to see you again. Hope the renewed inspiration stays with you and that you are feeling better. And, what a great looking dish!

  2. I’ve never apologized, but then, I’ve never taken a break. But if you can believe it, when I began my blog I posted every day. Crazy, but those were also posts with really horrible photos. I’ve deleted most of them! So now it’s 2 times a week. It’s a crazy job for which you don’t get paid. But at least you’re your own boss. Great looking dish!!!

    • Good for you—that’s awesome! I’d never be able to keep up with that, unless my real boss gave me the boot from my real job ;). I used to post once a week and couldn’t handle devoting a whole weekend, day and night, to a recipe.

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