summer vegetable salad with toasted halloumi and saffron dressing

heidi’s pasta salad has a red wine and saffron dressing which i really wanted to try – she describes it as being vibrant and robust so i decided to try and recreate the recipe she took it from.

the original recipe is for vegetable salad in saffron vinaigrette and is from diane worthington's the taste of summer (heidi has the book, i don’t). apparently it uses orzo so, as i still had half a pack to use up after making asparagus orzotto, i used this as my starting point. add a couple of bunches of asparagus, fresh peas and some toasted halloumi and things were looking good.

the dressing is as heidi describes and work wonderfully with the other flavours. i’ve had this as a packed lunch most days this week and have loved the combination of flavours and textures – slippery orzo, fresh crunchy vegetables, salty squeaky cheese and that punchy dressing.

summer vegetable salad with toasted halloumi and saffron dressing (serves 6-8)

saffron dressing:

50ml red wine vinegar

½ a teaspoon of saffron threads

1 garlic clove, crushed

zest and juice of a lemon

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

125ml olive oil

250g halloumi, cut into 1cm pieces

300g dried pasta (i used orzo)

300g asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into bite size pieces

150g fresh peas

a handful of basil leaves, shredded

to make the dressing gently heat the vinegar and saffron in a small saucepan and bring just to a simmer. remove from heat immediately and let it cool. mix the cooled vinegar and saffron with the garlic, lemon zest and juice and the mustard. whisk together, then add the olive oil. taste, and if it is too harsh for your liking you can soften some of the acidity with a bit of sugar. set aside.

place the halloumi on a tray and grill under a high heat until it starts to colour. leave to cool.

cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water. when it is almost ready add the asparagus and peas. turn the heat up and quickly bring back to the boil. as soon as it is boiling remove from the heat and drain – you barely want to cook the vegetables.

place the drained pasta and vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the saffron dressing and halloumi. add the basil and season to taste. eat at room temperature.