Greg was out of town this week for work so I was on my own for dinner. I usually take this opportunity to make meals with ingredients Greg doesn’t like–like mushrooms and blue cheese. After being out of town myself the previous week and several days of eating hot dogs, cheeseburgers, french fries, pie and s’mores, my body really wanted something clean and healthy, so I decided to go with this simple Greek salad. I made the dressing and and prepared the veggies at the beginning of the week, which made it easy to just grill a chicken breast and assemble my salad each night.
In addition to being tasty and healthy, this recipe is really flexible too. You could easily substitute steak for the chicken, or use a grilled portabello cap for a vegetarian option.
I made several changes to this recipe, but I’ve included a link to the original below so you can try it without my changes if you’d like. First of all, the original recipe had you add fried white potatoes to the salad, but white potatoes really aren’t very good for you, and the whole point of having a salad for dinner is to eat something healthy, so I left out the potatoes. Also the original recipe suggested adding the dressing to a skillet to warm it up for a bit before dressing the salad. I don’t mind warm meat on top of a salad, but I’d rather have my lettuce be cool and crisp so I skipped the dressing warming step.
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I actually haven’t cooked anything all week because our fridge has been so full of leftovers. We had several parties and outings last week and weekend and we managed to acquire leftovers at nearly every one. Our fridge has slowly been emptying out, and hopefully after tonight all the leftovers will finally be gone and I can actually start cooking again!
I made this salad several months ago for Cinco de Mayo. It has lots of separate components, but none of them are hard to make, and if you prepare them ahead of time you can easily assemble the salad in the few minutes it takes for the shrimp to cook. Honestly the most time consuming part of this recipe is chopping the tomatoes, onion and jalapeño for the pico de gallo. If you really wanted to save time, you could use store bought pico instead.
I was initially a bit concerned that I might not like the dressing for the salad since it’s just lime juice and olive oil with a few spices, because I’m usually not a fan of anything sour. I was pleasantly surprised though when I tasted the finished dressing on the salad. The touch of honey in the dressing goes a long way in cutting the sourness of the lime, and the lime goes really well with the shrimp. The salad is topped with cotija cheese- a crumbly, slightly salty cheese that’s almost like a Mexican version of feta.
If you’re not a shrimp fan, this salad would be equally good with grilled chicken. Just coat the chicken with the same spice mixture and throw it on the grill. There’s enough protein in the salad from the black beans and the cheese that you could even leave the meat out entirely for a vegetarian meal.
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If you’ve never tried haloumi cheese, you should definitely go to the store right now and get some. It’s the coolest cheese ever! Haloumi is a salty Greek cheese that you can grill. That’s right! You can throw this cheese straight onto a grill or into a pan and cook it! Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Lauren, you’re crazy! I know what happens when I’m grilling burgers or making a grilled cheese sandwich and some melted cheese oozes and comes into contact with the grill or pan. It burns almost instantly and I have a huge mess to clean up.” I’ve experienced that many, many times myself, but this is no ordinary cheese! When haloumi is heated it softens and gets slightly gooey, but keeps its shape and develops a beautiful golden crust on the outside. It’s all the goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich without the bread!
Haloumi is a very salty cheese. It’s easily just as salty, if not more so, than feta, so I wouldn’t recommend just buying a hunk of haloumi and planning on coming home, grilling it up and eating it straight. You probably know that watermelon tastes great with a bit of salt, which means it pairs perfectly with this salty cheese.
The original version of this recipe simply involved topping some slices of grilled haloumi with cubed watermelon that had been tossed in dressing. I could tell though that the recipe would make much more dressing than you’d need, so I decided to put the whole thing over a bed of romaine and make a meal out of it.
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