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I had to share another recipe with you from Maria Speck’s amazing book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Every recipe I try impresses me for a different reason:  the Orange Scented Scones with Dark Chocolate teased me from the oven with their citrusy, buttery scent and then melted in my mouth; the Rustic Linguine with Summer Herbs and Olives had me wondering, “Is this too many herbs? Too few other flavors?” – then pow! the combination was a masterpiece; and now this (pictured on the cover) –  her Leek Salad with Grilled Haloumi and Rye Berries, pure heaven.

Photo credit: Sara Remington © 2011

If you’ve never experimented with grilling cheese, here’s your chance. Maria has you broil it instead of grill it, which I think is genius. 

Maria Speck’s Leek Salad with Grilled Haloumi and Rye Berries

Reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

I took Maria’s advice and shaved Pecorino Romano over the top.

3/4 cup Rye Berries
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup rye (or wheat berries), soaked overnight and drained
2 medium leeks, cleaned and cut into 3/4-inch segments (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (2-by 1-inch) strip orange zest, white pith removed (optional)
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, 2 teaspoons oil reserved
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To Finish
1/4 lb haloumi cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crumbled oregano or thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)

To prepare the rye or wheat, bring the water and the berries to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the berries are tender but still slightly chewy, 50-60 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and steam for 10 to 15 minutes if you have time. Drain any remaining liquid and transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.

While the berries cool, prepare the salad. Bring the leeks, chicken broth and orange zest to a boil in a large saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the leeks are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the leeks and add them to the serving bowl with the rye (or wheat) berries. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the mint, and the capers, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, keeping in mind that capers and haloumi are quite salty.

To finish, position a rack about 6 inches below the heat source and preheat the broiler. Cut the haloumi cheese into slices, about 1/4-inch think, and put them on a plate. Sprinkle with the oregano, pepper, pepper flakes, and reserved 2 teaspoons of tomato oil; rub the oil and spices all over to coat the slices on both sides (work gently, as haloumi breaks easily). Transfer the cheese to a medium cast-iron skillet or a broiler pan.

Broil the haloumi until the slices just start to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes, turning once with a spatula. (Watch closely as you don’t want the cheese to dry out.)

Top the salad with the haloumi. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons mint, and serve right away.

To get a head start: The salad (without the haloumi) can be prepared 4 to 6 hours ahead. Chill, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I was drooling when I saw it and hehe I kept thinking that it would totally fit for winter too Marissa! 😛

  2. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen says:

    This is a complex in flavor but easy salad. I love grains and the addition of mint and grilled cheese is fantastic! I usually use hard feta cheese since halloumi is very rarely found.
    Here´s to a lazy winter!

  3. Eileen says:

    This sounds like an amazing combination! I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen rye berries–but I do have several different natural food stores to check. Plus I do know where to get wheat berries, so there’s a potential substitute.

    1. Marissa says:

      Absolutely. We’ve made it with farro also and it was very good…