Where do you stand on sprouts? Are you in the ‘no way’ camp, scarred by too many traumatic encounters with the pallid, mushy horror that is the over-boiled sprout? Or are you in the ‘hell yes’ camp, loving sprouts so much that you’ll risk annoying your colleagues by re-heating your sprout concoctions in the work microwave, perfuming the office with the sprout’s unmistakable aroma. (And no, not that aroma before you ask. Naughty.)
Me? I’m a ‘hell yes’ girl. Sorry, lovely colleagues, but I bloody love sprouts. I love the way they look, like cute miniature cabbages huddling together for warmth. I love the way they add the pizzazz (that’s right, PIZZAZZ) to a roast dinner, soaking up gravy as if that’s what they were born to do. But most of all, I love their versatility. Because sprouts aren’t just for Christmas. Oh no. Sprouts are for life. Or, at least, for the period between October and March when they’re in season.
Now, I’m all for tarting up sprouts in posh risottos and fancy stir fries à la Ottolenghi, but today I want to share something simple. It came into my life unexpectedly, one of those ‘I’ve-only-got-a-few-things-in-the-fridge-so-let’s-chuck-them-together-and-see-what-happens’ recipes. But as humble as its origins may be, don’t be fooled by its simplicity. Because this is an absolute corker of a sprout recipe; a recipe with the potential to turn even the most devout of sprout haters.
Warm sprout and halloumi salad.
Let me just leave you to contemplate those words for a minute, to let them curl around your tongue as you imagine the possibilities. Because this, my friends, is without a doubt the best sprout dish I have ever tasted. Ever. Hear me out. The sprouts are sliced and sautéed for just long enough for the edges to char, but not so long that they lose their crunch and distinctive ‘sprouty’ flavour (technical term). The halloumi joins the sprouts half way through, squidging up (another technical term) and getting itself a nice golden tan.
But then there’s the words missing from the recipe title, the little extras that make this salad really special. The garlic and fresh red chilli, thinly sliced and fried in the oil before the sprouts hit the pan. The lemon juice, sizzling as it’s spritzed liberally over everything. And the basmati rice, a cushion for the salad that soaks up every distinct flavour clinging to those charred sprouts: the heat of the chillies, the pungency of the garlic, the citrus burst of the lemon, the salty tang of the halloumi.
Try this recipe and tell me you still don’t like sprouts. Go on, I dare you.
Recipe: Warm sprout and halloumi salad
You’ll need (per person):
- Approx. 100g sprouts, outer leaves and stalks removed and roughly sliced (or as many sprouts as you want – more is always better)
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped and de-seeded (Want to crank up the heat? Keep those seeds in)
- 1 large garlic clove, finely sliced
- Juice of half a lemon
- Approx 1/3 of a block of halloumi, sliced
- 70g basmati rice (steamed or boiled)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to season
Heat the oil on a medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and chilli and fry for 10 seconds, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the sprouts to the pan, mixing well with the garlic and chillies. Stir well, then leave for a couple of minutes, allowing the sprouts to char.
Once the sprouts have started to char, stir well again and move to one side of the pan, making space for the halloumi. Add the halloumi and cook for one minute (or until golden), before turning over to brown on the other side.
When the halloumi is brown on both sides, mix together with the sprouts. Add the juice of half a lemon and season, stirring thoroughly for one minute.
Serve immediately with basmati rice.