Leek and Rye Berry Salad with Halloumi Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

leek salad with halloumi cheese and rye berries

My best friend Basil usually comes over for a weekend evening visit and when he does, I like to think of a creative meal to make for him. Basil is a good cook, but as he is busy, he usually makes a handful of tried and tested recipes during the week so it is a treat for him to visit my kitchen for dinner. Food blogging does have one advantage and that is rarely do we eat the same dishes because I need to come up with new material. The disadvantage is that dinner has to wait until the photos are taken … ah well, that is a small price to pay for a satisfying and interesting meal.

This salad was inspired by Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck. I am absolutely smitten with this cookbook and lots of the recipes have been bookmarked to try because I enjoy dressing up my grain dishes. I could not resist another cooking session with Halloumi cheese, and this is one of the few recipes I have tried so far. A traditional salty Cypriot cheese made from sheep's, goat's and frequently cow's milk known for its ability to hold its shape and firm texture when cooked and for the "squeaky" sound it makes when you chew it, Halloumi is a perfect choice to fill out a salad. It may be difficult to find, but can often be purchased at specialty cheese or Greek shops. If you can't find it, other Greek saganaki cheeses can be substituted. Similarly, rye berries can be substituted with other whole grain berries if necessary, but the rye berries have a depth of flavor that is wonderful in this salad.

A rather unconventional pairing perhaps, but I served it with oseng oseng tempe and a peanut butter loaf for dessert. Overall, a delicious meal.

Leek and Rye Berry Salad with Halloumi Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and OlivesLeek and Rye Berry Salad with Halloumi Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives
Recipe by
Adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More
Cuisine: Greek
Published on April 29 , 2012

A fresh-tasting and gorgeous Greek-style salad with chewy rye berries, leeks, olives, and fresh herbs topped with fried Halloumi cheese — an astonishing and wonderfully pleasing array of different textures and flavors

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 to 20 minutes

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  • 3/4 cup of rye or other whole grain berries
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 lb (110 g) Halloumi cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • pinch of cayenne
  • Rinse the rye or whole grain berries and soak overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and transfer to a medium saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes or until the grains are slightly chewy. Drain and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and chop, setting aside 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid.

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot, bring the leeks, water or stock, and orange zest to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until the leeks are tender, stirring occasionally. Drain.

  • To assemble the salad, scatter the cooked rye berries onto a serving plate, and top with the leeks, sun-dried tomatoes, mint leaves, capers, fennel seeds, olives, and salt and pepper.

  • Cut the Halloumi cheese into thin (1/8-inch thick) slices and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with thyme, olive oil, the reserved liquid from the sun-dried tomatoes, black pepper, red pepper flakes and cayenne. Brush the mixture evenly over the cheese, and gently turn and coat the other side.

  • Heat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the cheese to the pan and cook until it begins to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is browned. Top the salad with the fried cheese, and garnish with some additional fresh mint leaves.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Leek and Rye Berry Salad with Halloumi Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

More Greek recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Fried Saganaki with Halloumi on a Greek Tomato Salad with Kalamata Olives
Quinoa Dolmadakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Baked Gigantes Beans in Tomato Sauce
Greek Feta & Olive Frittata

On the top of the reading stack: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London's Ottolenghi


John said...

That does look good! I have a huge amount of mint at the moment, and have been wondering what I should do with it. This recipe might just be what I'm looking for.

Rosh said...

What a lovely salad Lisa! Love the combination of flavours...looks so tempting :)

Simona Carini said...

This salad looks very nice. I recently tasted rye berries and liked them a lot. I dry-toast them in a skillet rather than soak them before cooking them. Halloumi is a nice cheese.