Roasted Broccolini with Crispy Halloumi & Harissa Vinaigrette

Whoa! An entire month without a recipe or blog post? I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that, really, I cannot believe I let a month slip by without sharing a new recipe.

In all honesty though, September has been a bit of a doozy. At the start of the month, Ricky and I left for a week long trip in the UK (blog post + travel-inspired recipe coming next week), and upon returning I was hit with an exceptionally busy (the good kind of busy) month at work. A few changes to structure and the end of the quarter made for a lot of running around! Then, last week I came down with a devastating head cold.

Just kidding. I have a tendency to be extremely dramatic when sick. Just ask my mother.

Anyway, enough with the excuses. I'm back, and am so excited to jump back into recipe testing and blogging. Honestly, that little break I took from blogging may, in hindsight, be a blessing because I'm feeling refreshed and more creative. Sometimes, no matter how much you love something, it's easy to lose steam. Nothing a quick break - whether that's ten minutes around the block on your lunch break, or a month off of recipe testing - can't fix.

Most of you that read my blog pretty regularly know that whenever I travel, I love to come back and share the details of the trip along with a recipe inspired by our time away. As mentioned, that post will come next week, but I couldn't help being semi-inspired by our travels with this dish as well. I've had halloumi (also known as "grilling cheese") before, but never have I seen it more present on menus than I did in the UK. We had it with a few dishes, such as an Australian take on Bubble n' Squeak, but noticed its presence everywhere we went. The salty cheese was so delectable and paired well with almost everything it accompanied; I knew that I had to grab some when I got home.

Other than grilling halloumi, a fan favorite way of consuming the sturdy (it doesn't melt!) cheese is by crisping it in a pan. This family-friendly side dish uses that method, and pairs the crunchy cheese cubes with roasted broccolini and finishes it off with a tangy harissa dressing. While this dish is meant to be served as a side, we also found it worked amazing as the main star to a vegetarian buddah bowl - toss it with your favorite grain, some roasted chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and a solid hunk of avocado!

Serving Size: 4 sides

Ingredients:

2 bunches broccolini

4 oz halloumi cheese, sliced into 2 inch thin slices, about 5-6 slices

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp favorite roasting oil (grapeseed, avocado, etc)

For the vinaigrette:

2 tbsp Harissa paste

1 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Water to taste*

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with oil.

2. Chop the bottom inch off of the broccolini stems and trim the leaves. Toss the broccolini in grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy and slightly brown. Flip halfway through.

4. While broccolini is roasting, prepare the vinaigrette. Combine Harissa, sesame oil, and red wine vinegar and whisk to combine.*

5. In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil on medium high heat. Once hot, add the cheese slices and cook about 2 minutes on each side, or until brown and crispy. Remove and set aside on a paper towel. Once cool, chop them into bite size pieces.

6. Once broccolini is done roasting, remove and add to serving tray. Sprinkle with cheese cubes and drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Enjoy!

Notes:

1. If you are using a thick Harissa paste, add a little bit of filtered water to the dressing and whisk until you reach your desired consistency.

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