Fried Haloumi Topped with Chilli, Spinach, Water Chestnut, Hazelnut, Orange and Sun-Blushed Tomato Salad

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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

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Haloumi is a very firm cheese found in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, and it has a habit of making your teeth stand on edge if you eat a piece that’s too thick – it’s almost as though you’re eating firm rubber! But, fear not, once you grill or fry it, it’s delicious. My friends Tarik and Savas, who own changa restaurant in Istanbul, always soak slices of it in water before cooking it – which softens it and gives it a more mozzarella-like texture.

If you have problems sourcing water chestnuts, buy a reliable canned brand and rinse well in cold water for a few minutes before using. Sun-blushed tomatoes are juicier than sun-dried, and often much sweeter, as some producers sprinkle them with sugar before drying them.


  • 500 g haloumi, cut into 1 cm slices
  • 1 red chilli (ideally you do want a little heat in this and I prefer it to be quite fiery)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 large handfuls of large-leaf spinach, stems removed if too woody
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt
  • 20 fresh water chestnuts
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2 oranges, segmented
  • small handful of hazelnuts, lightly toasted and skins rubbed off
  • 150 g sun-blushed tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls of dill sprigs


Fill a bowl or roasting dish with 5 cm warm water and place the haloumi slices in it in a single layer. Leave at room temperature for 2–6 hours, or overnight in the fridge.

Thinly slice the chilli into rings and place in a small pan with the garlic and half the olive oil. Bring to a gentle simmer and keep on the heat for 2 minutes – you don’t want the garlic to colour too much, but you do need the flavours to infuse. Take off the heat, pour the contents into a small jug, then pour in the remaining oil and the vinegar and leave this dressing to one side.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and put half the spinach in it. Press it down to submerge it, then count to 15. Immediately drain it into a colander and then refresh it in a large bowl of cold water. Squeeze out excess water. Shred the remaining spinach with a sharp knife.

Fill a 1 litre container with cold water, add the lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt, then mix to dissolve. Peel the water chestnuts with either a small sharp knife or a potato peeler and place in the acidulated water.

Take the haloumi from the soaking water and pat dry on kitchen paper. Heat a frying pan and add a few tablespoons of olive oil, then fry the haloumi slices until golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and place on 4 plates.

Take the blanched spinach and pull it apart to loosen it a little, then place in a bowl together with the shredded spinach, orange segments, hazelnuts and sun-blushed tomatoes. Slice the peeled water chestnuts into rounds about 5 mm thick and add to the bowl. Stir the chilli dressing, then pour half over the spinach salad with some salt and toss it all together. Divide this between the 4 plates, then spoon over the remaining chilli dressing and scatter on the parsley leaves.