Bethany Kehdy

A Champion of Middle Eastern Food & Recipes

Warm Lentil Salad w/ Halloumi Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & a Za’atar Vinaigrette

Warm Lentil Salad with Halloumi Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & a Za'atar Vinaigrette

Lentil Salad

How many of you agree that consuming  processed, fat-free foods is probably the most frightful thing you could do to yourself?

Take fat-free yogurt as a simple example; the ones that have slender, gorgeous ladies advertised all over the packaging. I can promise you one thing: these ladies are not eating that yogurt to get that figure. Fat Free anything, in this case yogurt, will have copious amounts of added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and all kinds of preservatives and additives that will only work against your slimming goal! And, whatever you do please stay away from the ones with all the fruit! Get a natural, full-fat yogurt (Greek style is great), add some fresh fruit(s) of choice, maybe some mixed nuts, flaxseed etc., drizzle with honey and wow only five minutes wasted.

I’m not a fitness instructor, I’m not a nutritionist or a health-freak for that matter. I just read the labels. Along with common sense, it’s enough to steer me back to reality and to the “as-nature-intended” products!

Warm Lentil Salad w/ Halloumi Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & a Za’atar Vinaigrette

So, why am I ranting? Well because I really want to know what you think about fat free foods…but also because I’m trying to make a point that, for example, this lentil salad which by the way only takes twenty-five minutes to make, is clearly much better for you than fat-free beef stroganoff (I’ve seen a few scary recipes in my time!), or fat-free ranch dressing (if you eat that then consider yourself on a suicidal mission), and OMG what the hell is fat-free chocolate cake? Cringe!

Not all fat is equal and of course it’s the processed fats that are the harmful ones. Keeping to a wholesome diet of fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds, and berries- otherwise known as whole foods, is key to keeping you feeling balanced and in form.

I know summer is on the horizon and I could do with shedding some of those winter warmers I happily piled on. However, I will not be sucked into eating processed, fat-free or low-fat food that tastes nothing like it’s supposed to. All that will do is propel me to eat more and more of it, in an agonizing effort to satiate the craving for the real thing while totally polluting my body. That spells insanity for me! So, do yourself a favor and make this salad, then have yourself a luscious slice of chocolate cake or have a good-quality, real chocolate bar and follow it with a twenty minute stroll. I guarantee you’ll go to bed happy!

Whatever you do, don’t do what my hubby does and that is to have five processed chocolate bars a day. Now that could explain the root of this post… (hope this doesn’t get me in trouble).

Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese that is also popular around Lebanon and the Middle-East (Note: Cyprus is an island that is about 129 miles/208 km from Lebanon). Halloumi cheese is traditionally made from a mixture of sheep’s & goat’s milk, is salty and has a texture similar to mozzarella. What’s unique about this cheese is that it has a high melting point making it ideal for grilling or frying. The Cypriot Halloumi (with a capital H) is a PDO product (Protected Designation of Origin).

Zaa’tar is a savoury blend of herbs and spices typically including dried wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. It has an earthy & pungent flavor. In Lebanon and around the Middle East, Zaa’tar is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast with a variety of cheese or spread onto breakfast pizzas (Manakeesh) which are also popularly consumed throughout the day. You can make your own mix at home or can be found in most Middle-Eastern stores otherwise I’ve been told Waitrose.

Warm Lentil Salad w/ Halloumi Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & a Za'atar Vinaigrette
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 2 - 4
  • 200g or 1¼ green lentils, rinsed well
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 sprigs of green or spring onion (more or less to taste)
  • 100g of Halloumi cheese, chopped into 1 cm cubes
  • a handful of rocket leaves (or a mix of herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar mix
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 45 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cover lentils with water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or till they are soft but not mushy. It’s best to read the directions on the carton/bag.
  2. Pre-heat over to 325F/160C/3G and pop the tomatoes in to a baking pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and bake till soft about 15 minutes.
  3. In the mean time, prep all the ingredients like chopping the green onions and Halloumi cheese.
  4. Lightly drizzle a chef pan with some olive oil and place on medium flame then add Halloumi cheese and let it crisp on each side for about 5 minutes.
  5. By now the lentils should be ready so drain them. Remove the tomatoes from the oven. Mix all the ingredients together then at the end add the rocket and enjoy with crispy Arabic bread or a side of grilled fish or chicken.
  6. Enjoy warm or cold.


44 thoughts on “Warm Lentil Salad w/ Halloumi Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes & a Za’atar Vinaigrette

  1. I can’t wait to try this!!

    LOVE letnitls. Eat m’jeddrah cold.
    ( does this make me majnoon? !) This give me an alternative to tabouli. I put Zaa’tar in a lot of “savory”dishes I make from scratch. I add a few TBSP’s to home made shireeyeh . I LOVE shanklish with eggs in the morning & flat bread) This gives me a new idea for lunch now that the weather is getting nicer/warmer.

  2. Whenever I see the word “low” on a package of food I get worried. It most often means they took something out, but compensated by adding in another ingredient that is not healthy. Just eating ingredients that come from the earth is always the best way to go – thanks for this delicious recipe!

  3. Honey I hear ya! I turn around and run a mile in the opposite direction from anything that has the label ‘fat free’. And when I see a recipe with anything fat free that I think I’d like to try, I just substitute it with full fat. I also love *real* butter and whole milk. All in moderation of course =)

  4. I was staring at a tin of zatar today in Waitrose wondering if I should get it or not. It’s such a new spice to me so I was a little daunted. I did get sumac though which I now adore. 🙂 Oh dear, I do like some low fat yoghurts because M&S does some lovely flavours. I now shall be more careful!

  5. I love this so much, Bethany! 🙂 I’ve been trying all sorts of recipes with grains and legumes and this is just splendid. I love the addition of Halloumi and can’t wait to try it!! 🙂

  6. Fat free beef stroganoff?! I can’t believe my eyes! I’m with you about fat-free products! I couldn’t live without butter, full fat cheeses or yogurts! I just try to add enough of unsaturated fats as well. And I should add more exercise! 🙂

    If I had all ingredients this would be my dinner tonight as I’ve been craving lentils all day. However I only have lentils and halloumi. 🙁 And I don’t have zatar! Where do you usually buy it?

  7. Oh – I’m glad I read this. I’ve been eating 0% fat Greek yoghurt (and adding my own fruit to it) for ages. I thought I was being good, but it seems I’m not? 🙁 Plus it didn’t even have the gorgeous ladies you mentioned on the packaging! lol

    I’ll compare it with the fat version next time I go shopping.

    This recipe looks really good, I’ll have to make it!

    A quick search on the Sainsburys website tells me that they don’t sell za’atar mix. Do you have a recipe for it or know a good place to buy it from?

  8. Thank you so much for the information. I agree with you about fat free stuff- it is garbage people buy it. Again thank you.

  9. I love pulses and haloumi so I’m definitely going to try this soon (Sunday? Hint hint!).

    I cannot believe that noone above has said anything about your husband eating FIVE chocolate bars a day?! Noooo!

  10. I do agree with you. Luckily, in India where I live, processed foods are just beginning to take over our supermarket shelves (a frightening trend!) and most people really really prefer simple home-cooked food.

    Most average people need some amount of fat in their diet and its really about “moderation”. And if one stays off processed foods, by and large, this is not difficult to manage. And exercise, even a daily walk will do.

    For people who do really need to keep to a low fat diet for medical reasons, again, it is about making proper food choices.

  11. Hey Beth keefek!
    As always your salad and photos look splendid! Funny too I have got the same things going these days, never thought of putting halloum in a salad like this, grand idea!

  12. I only recently heard of Halloumi cheese but it intrigued me so much that I made a grilled cheese with it. It really is an intriguing cheese, especially because it can be grilled/has a high melting temperature. I bet it adds a great touch to this lentil salad!

  13. This post is very well written. We should all stop kidding ourselves about fat free not being calorie free! I love the lentil salad – for sure 100% time better than eating any fat free beef stroganoff – if I was going to eat that stuff, I’d rather eat paper instead!

  14. Sounds nice but I disagree on the fat free yogurt rant. Total 0% is great, and does not contain all the nasties you mention.

    Having said all that, Halloumi isn’t so healthy – but it is very very tasty

    1. Hey Ian thanks for stopping by! I’ve not looked at the nutritional values of Total 0% so I can’t vouch for it as a brand. I’ll check it out next time. That doesn’t help disclaim the fact that other brands have the reduced fat and the added sugar to make up for it placing it right up there with the quantities found in chocolate bars. What I advocate and personally follow is going for natural foods.I’m not afraid of fat as long as it’s not processed and eaten in moderation.

  15. This is a really lovely salad and I appreciated your thoughtful thought on fat free foods. I like the food and issues you feature here. I’ll be back often. Have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  16. this salad looks so delicious. love the addition of zatar and the cheese is new to me but sounds and looks perfect for this salad. thanks for sharing.

  17. If this British Summer continues I’ll be making this one evening this week. On a related note I went to a pub yesterday where they served deep fried Halloumi cheese in beer batter – delicious but not something I will eat again!

  18. Fat-free food is disgusting – especially fat-free dairy product like yoghurt or butter. Thanks for the post – I am right there with you, and I love the addition of the halloumi. It’s one of my favourite cheeses.

  19. Great post & couldn’t agree more! Although I will admit I’m a sucker for lowfat (plain, no-sugar) added yoghurt. But yes, people get WAY too hung up on fat content and forget to look at things such as vitamins & minerals. This salad looks like a great example of real honest, healthy food, regardless of it’s fat content.

  20. I am in love with this salad – lentil salads are my favourite. Have resolved to do more oven-roasting of cherry tomatoes this year 🙂 And this will be a way to use up the za’atar i have left from my Valentine’s lunch 🙂

  21. I’ve had the great pleasure of tasting this incredible DKS recipe, and let’s just say. . . there was none left . . . it is so tasty! Thank you Bethany, I just loved it. Seeing you work in the kitchen was so much fun, this is a great site!

    1. Making blends at home is super easy. You can also check out the Lebanese Pantry section for some extra info.

  22. Just wanted to say I enjoyed the site. You have really put a lot of time into your content and it is just wonderfull!

  23. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. . . .

  24. I’ll eat that salad with a clear conscience and then finsh it off with a wickedly delicious piece of chocolate cake!!! It’s bad to feel bad about good food..

  25. Hey Beth did u read about your blog in last issue of Fatafeat magazine; They have written about DKS and this recipe, nice

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