This meatless dish can serve as a main or a side. It contains ingredients that might appeal to more sophisticated palates, such as halloumi cheese, the firm and salty curd usually made of goat's milk and sheep's milk. It is available at most large grocery stores and has a high melting point, which means it's great for grilling and even a quick pan sauté.
Here it serves as the center of the action, surrounded by beautiful lentils (spring for the green Puy variety for best results), pomegranate seeds, green chili pepper, thin ribbons of zucchini and threads of red onion.
Serve it with warm, crusty bread.
Adapted from "Garlic: The Mighty Bulb," by Natasha Edwards (Firefly Books, $24.95, 160 pages).
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 29 minutes
1 cup green lentils, preferably Puy
2 cups cool water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (may substitute 1 teaspoon powdered vegetable bouillon)
2 small zucchini (about 5 ounces total)
1/2 medium red onion
1 small green chili pepper
2 medium cloves garlic
Handful cilantro leaves, with tender stems
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 8 ounces halloumi cheese (see note above)
Pick over the lentils and rinse to remove any foreign matter. Drain and place in a large saucepan. Add the water, making sure the lentils are covered by about an inch. Add the bouillon cube and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to make sure the bouillon cube has dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes; the lentils should be just tender. Drain, transfer to a mixing bowl and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini lengthwise into thin ribbons. Cut the onion into very thin slices. Stem, seed and mince the green chili pepper. Crush, then mince the garlic. Add the zucchini slices, onion, chili pepper, garlic, cilantro, pomegranate seeds and 2 tablespoons of the oil to the warm lentils; toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cut the cheese into 1/2-inch-thick rectangular slices. Lightly season on both sides with salt and black pepper. Add to the skillet and cook for 2 to 4 minutes on each side until the surface of the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the heat.
Re-stir the lentil salad and season with salt and/or black pepper as needed. Divide among individual plates. Place equal portions of the warm halloumi slices on top of each portion. Serve right away.
Per serving: 460 calories, 24 g protein, 33 g carbo- hydrates, 28 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 1,080 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar