This fregola salad is the perfect main dish or side salad for summer. With grilled halloumi, charred corn and lemon vinaigrette, this Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is a must-make!
A bounty of fresh produce at the market can spark inspiration to create delicious and nourishing salads. This is especially true during the summer months, when many of us enjoy grilling our meals.
Cuisine throughout the Mediterranean includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy legumes. Charred eggplant, grilled zucchini, couscous salad, and Greek feta salad are just a few of our favorite summertime dishes.
Thanks to the tiny island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, your salad might also include grilled halloumi cheese with the vegetables. And thanks to the city of Sardinia in Italy, it can be a Mediterranean pasta salad , with a tiny Italian pasta known as fregola!
Fregola salad with grilled halloumi
This fregola salad recipe calls for two unique ingredients, and if you haven't experienced them, you are in for a treat!
What is halloumi and why is it so popular?
Halloumi cheese is a sheep's milk cheese you can grill! Its texture and flavor are very similar to paneer cheese and farmer's cheese. In fact, halloumi is a fantastic substitute for paneer, and likewise, paneer is a great halloumi substitute.
Halloumi is a semi-hard, high melting point cheese. Because it doesn't melt as quickly as other cheeses, grilled and pan fried halloumi are very popular options, and grilled halloumi is also a fantastic meat substitute.
If you're monitoring your intake of salt, keep in mind that halloumi cheese has a hefty amount of sodium, and it is also high in fat.
The best way to describe this Sardinian specialty is that it lies somewhere between regular pasta and Israeli couscous. Little balls of semolina dough are meticulously hand rolled, and often ingredients like saffron or turmeric are mixed in, giving the fregola sarda a gorgeous golden hue.
Other fregola salad ingredients
The remaining ingredients are common, yet delicious in their own right.
- Fresh sweet corn- Charred corn niblets add smoky-sweet flavor to the salad. If you live in an area where fresh sweet corn isn't in season, look for bags of roasted corn in the freezer section of the store.
- Walnuts- Lightly toasted walnuts add nuttiness and crunch to the fregola salad. Feel free to substitute a different type of nut, or leave the nuts out entirely.
- Fresh herbs- Italian parsley, mint, and basil add fresh flavor and brightness to the dish.
Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
The salad is topped with a simple lemon dressing that you can put together quickly. Just combine some fresh lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Add some salt and pepper if you'd like. Boom, it's done!
Because grilled halloumi is so hearty and a good source of protein, this fregola salad makes a great meatless or vegetarian main dish.
That being said, the pasta salad pairs well with grilled meats and fish. Serve it alongside grilled chicken, beef and lamb koobideh kabobs or Fish Meatballs (Kofta).
Refrigerate any leftovers in a covered container and use them up within 5 to 7 days.
Fregola Salad with Grilled Halloumi
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup fregola pasta or Israeli couscous
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 ears of corn husked
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 8 oz Halloumi cheese sliced lengthwise, ¾-inch thick
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup basil leaves coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup mint leaves coarsely chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar or more, if desired
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Toast the walnuts in a small sauté pan over medium heat, tossing often, until golden brown and fragrant, 3 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
- Cook fregola in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse; spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
- Set your grill on to medium-high heat. Rub corn with a tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender, 10 minutes or so depending on size of corn ears. Transfer to a platter and let cool.
- Brush cheese with tablespoon oil and grill, turning once, until lightly charred on each side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter with corn and let cool.
- Cut the kernels from corn cobs and place into a large bowl. Add green onions, parsley, basil, mint, walnuts, and fregola. Tear Halloumi into bite-size pieces. Add to bowl and toss to combine.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients (lemon juice, vinegar, and oil). Pour over salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon, if desired.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.