Halloumi is an excellent spring and summer cheese that transforms a vegetable side dish into a hearty meal. In this dish, we make a simple preparation of lentils and sauteed garlic spinach, all dressed with freshly squeezed lemon and extra virgin olive oil. A lemon-paprika roasted chicken makes this a dinner full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and good fats. It's great for an active weekend dinner gathering.
Entertaining for four or more people? We also recommend our Golden-Baked Ricotta with Sauteed Spring Vegetables as an additional side or starter.
Ingredients for Lemon-Paprika Chicken
- 1 whole chicken, ideally sourced from your local farmer
- 4 lemons, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 head of fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh rosemary or thyme, optional
- Cast-iron dutch oven with a 3 quart capacity or more
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the whole chicken with extra virgin olive oil, salt, paprika and black pepper. Stuff the chicken with 8 lemon slices. Break up the head of garlic and stuff 4 to 6 peeled cloves in there as well. You can also stuff a bunch of fresh rosemary or thyme in there, if you like.
2. Coat the bottom of the dutch oven with extra virgin olive oil. Lay a bed of the lemon slices on the bottom of the dutch oven as a bed for the chicken. Nestle the remaining garlic cloves in the lemon slices. Place the seasoned and stuffed chicken ontop.
3. Cover the chicken with the lid and bake in the oven, covered, for 45 minutes.
4. Uncover the chicken. Increase the temperature of the oven to 425°F and roast for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Use this time to prepare the halloumi, below.
5. After 30 to 45 minutes, use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature reaches 165°F in multiple places in the chicken. If you like a little extra browning at this point, you can turn on the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes for extra crispy skin.
6. Let the bird rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve, lemon-garlic juices and all.
Ingredients for the Halloumi, Lentils, and Spinach Salad
- 8 ounces Halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 4 cups spinach, washed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Vegetable oil for frying the Halloumi
- Extra virgin olive oil for the lentils and spinach
- Stovetop grill pan, or a regular sauté pan will do
- Small saucepan for cooking lentils
1. Combine 2 cups water with 1 cup red lentils and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small saucepan. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat and reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes uncovered. Strain the lentils as soon as they are tender but no longer crunchy. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste and add more salt as needed. Season with olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the sauté pan with olive oil until it starts to shimmer. Sauté the garlic cloves until light golden brown. Add the spinach and sauté on medium-high heat to give the spinach a little crispy texture. Cook just until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Wipe out the sauté pan and pour 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the pan, heat on high until the oil starts to shimmer. Lay the halloumi slices in one layer in the pan and let them fry for 3 minutes, or until a nice dark brown, on each side. The halloumi will remain springy in texture with a crispy skin. Remove from the pan and allow to drain briefly on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
4. Arrange the lentils, halloumi, and garlicky spinach on a platter and squeeze fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil over everything. Finish with a crunchy sea salt, if desired.
Serve with the chicken.