Nothing says spring like beautiful petite peas.
I snap them up whenever I see them fresh in the stores and always have a bag of them in my freezer. And as luck would have it, I came across some nice looking Haloumi too. If you’re not familiar with this firm cheese (sometimes spelled Hallumi), I’d have to describe it as a cross between a mozzarella (in texture) and a feta (in salty tang). Classically served grilled, haloumi is one of the few cheeses I know of that will hold up over heat. It softens slightly, and gets all bubbly around the edges- yum! Its origin is in Cyprus, but you can get locally-made haloumi fairly easily nowadays. I’ll be honest though; it’s not always cheap to buy- usually upwards of $10-12 a wedge (gulp!) in the fancier markets for the imported brands. But I found one at Trader Joe’s for less than half the price. Heck, you can even make it at home (I’m totally going to try Martyna/The Wholesome Cook’s recipe one day soon). So with petite peas and haloumi in my basket, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes. This Spring Petite Pea Tapenade with Grilled Haloumi makes a delicious light lunch or dinner. You could also cut the haloumi into bite-size pieces before grilling and turn this into a stellar party appetizer. The bright, clean flavors of the peas, mint, chives, lemon zest and lemon-infused olive oil against the saltiness of the cheese, is indeed, a Perfect Match. Both the tapenade and cheese only take a few minutes each to prepare, so this can be whipped up in no time!
I like the tapenade to have texture to it, but you can absolutely purée it until completely smooth. The edamame in this spread adds some extra protein too. When you’re grilling the haloumi, be sure to cook over medium-low heat with no oil and watch it closely. It will brown quickly (like mine did– a tad too much perhaps?), so keep an eye on it. I used a cast iron pan (as it was raining so didn’t want to fire up the grill) and it worked just fine.
Spring Petite Pea Tapenade with Grilled Haloumi
Spring Petite Pea Tapenade
(yields 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup spring petite peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
fresh chives, 1/4 of a small bunch
2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil (I like the Limonato from Olive Press )
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
pinch of Citrus Salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small food processor. Pulse until course texture is achieved, or continue to pulse if a smooth consistency is desired. If mixture is too dry, add plain extra virgin olive oil to loosen it up If you’re using frozen peas, the mixture will be more dry as compared to using fresh peas.
(yields 2 servings)
1 Haloumi wedge, cut horizontally into four pieces
pinch of pepper, to taste
Heat a grill (or cast iron pan) to medium-low heat, no oil. Season cheese and grill until crust forms and cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with Petite Pea Tapenade and seasonal vegetables (pictured with steamed baby bok choy). Here’s another great haloumi recipe to try – Haloumi & Watermelon Balsamic Bites.
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