Featuring nutty fregola, smoky, grilled corn, tangy cheese, and crunchy walnuts, this fregola salad is an absolute flavor bomb. Toss in a generous amount of fresh herbs, plus a zingy lemon vinaigrette, and get ready for a taste and texture sensation!
This grilled halloumi fregola salad is one of those perfect summertime dishes that is hearty, nourishing, and refreshing all at once. This wholesome fregola salad recipe will fill you up without slowing you down — giving you all the fuel you need for your hot weather escapades. Mediterranean cuisine is wonderful at achieving that balance!
Don’t limit yourself though! Fregola salad is, indeed, delicious and comforting year-round. It is easy to make and perfect for barbecues, holidays, potlucks, or pool parties. Most people have never even heard of fregola or halloumi, so have fun spreading the love!
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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.
As a note, 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.
- Fregola Pasta – Brings a toasted, nutty flavor and firm, chewy texture to the salad. It is sometimes labeled as Sardinian couscous. Alternatively, you can use Israeli couscous.
- Walnuts – Adds a rich nutty flavor and yummy crunch. Switch up the nuts or skip them altogether if desired.
- Corn – If sweet corn isn’t available in your area, feel free to substitute frozen corn. You can buy it roasted or roast the kernels in a skillet.
- Halloumi Cheese – This unique sheep’s milk cheese is semi-hard and delightfully squeaky with a high melting point. Look for it in the specialty cheese section. You can use paneer or farmer’s cheese instead if needed.
- Herbs – Fresh parsley, basil, mint, and green onions add a blast of freshness and a menagerie of aromatic, herbal flavors.
- Lemon Vinaigrette – Brightens up the salad with a simple combo of lively lemon, zingy white wine vinegar, and olive oil.
- Toast the Nuts. Use a small saute pan over medium heat to toast the walnuts until golden brown and fragrant, for about 3 minutes. Toss often to avoid burning. Remove from heat, cool, and chop coarsely.
- Cook the Pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the fregola according to package directions. Drain in a colander but do not rinse the pasta. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread out to cool.
- Grill the Corn. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and rub each ear of corn with a tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to the grill, and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. The time will vary slightly depending on the size of your ears of corn, but you want them to be slightly charred and tender. Remove from the grill and set aside on a platter to cool.
- Char the Cheese. Give each side of the cheese a light coating of oil and then place on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning once, until the cheese is lightly charred on both sides. Set aside with the corn to cool.
- Combine Ingredients. Slice the kernels from the ears of corn and put them into a large bowl. Toss in the green onions, parsley, basil, mint, and fregola pasta. Rip the halloumi into bite-sized pieces and add that to the bowl. Toss well to combine.
- Dress & Toss. Whisk together the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pour the mixture over the salad and give it a nice toss to combine and evenly coat all ingredients. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as desired.
Couscous and fregola are both small, ball-shaped pastas made from a basic combination of water and wheat flour. However, they do have a few key differences.
Couscous has origins in North Africa, and today it is also enjoyed widely throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. Crushed wheat semolina is mixed with water to form small granules, which creates a pasta that is light in color, with a fluffy texture and mild, versatile flavor. Couscous is great at absorbing the flavors of anything you cook it with.
Fregola, on the other hand, is a uniquely Sardinian innovation. Just like couscous, this pasta is made from rolling crushed durum wheat into small spheres. Unlike couscous, these little balls go through a roasting process that transforms them into a firmer, chewier, and nuttier version of classic couscous. Sometimes, spices like turmeric or saffron are added to the dough for flavor and color.
Both of these beloved staple foods have been going strong for centuries!
This grilled halloumi fregola salad recipe is wonderful on its own and pairs wonderfully with plenty of dishes. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy it:
– Have as a meatless entree, either a la carte or with a hot cup of Lentil Soup.
– Enjoy with grilled meats like Kefta Kabob, Koobideh Kabob, or this Persian Chicken Kabob.
– Serve as a side dish with seafood dishes like these Palestinian Fish Meatballs, Glazed Salmon, baked Greek Yogurt Chicken, or Greek Shrimp Saganaki.
– Have as an appetizer or snack alongside White Bean Hummus, Tabouli Salad, and Pita Bread.
Leftovers of this fregola salad recipe will keep for 5-7 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The dressing will settle to the bottom, so make sure that you give the salad a toss before enjoying again.
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Fregola Salad with Grilled Halloumi
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup fregola pasta or Israeli couscous
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 ears of corn husked
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 8 oz Halloumi cheese sliced lengthwise, ¾-inch thick
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup basil leaves coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup mint leaves coarsely chopped
- 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 is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.