Australia Day – served warm with a lamb, fried haloumi, pomegranate and fig salad

vegemite

Today is 26 January and it is vegemite-on-toast Australia Day. What I didn’t know until recently is that a nationally-coordinated approach to Australia Day (that being everyone doing stuff on the 26th January) really didn’t come into being until 1994. Here’s more on Australia Day if you’re interested.

How do Australians celebrate Australia Day?

To be honest, most of us enjoy a long weekend and that’s about it. I’m glad that we celebrate Australia Day in summer, when being outdoors is the usual and ‘eat lamb’ or ‘eat kangaroo’ and always ‘BBQ’ get thrown about.

I thought I’d celebrate Australia Day with lamb – after all, we are a nation that “rode on the sheep’s back

This is the perfect summer meal. It’s such a colourful salad with lean lamb mixed with summer treats, including sweet figs and bursts of pomegranate, with the freshness of mint and salty smooth haloumi. I modified this from a Donna Hay recipe from her Seasons book. Serve this meal with a glorious Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, our Eastern neighbour.

Here comes the recipe!

Warm lamb salad with fried haloumi, pomegranate and figs

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 x 100 g lean lamb steak, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 180 g haloumi, cut into 1 cm thick slices
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 200 g rocket leaves
  • ½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 figs, halved
  • 1 Tb red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil and 2 Tb extra for dressing
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds

Method:

  • Heat a non-stick stovetop grill pan to med-high and cook the lamb a few minutes each side (seared nicely, but pink inside, or to your linking).
  • Remove lamb from heat to a plate and keep warm. Slice into 1 cm thick slices when ready to serve.
  • Splash a little oil on the pan and grill the haloumi for 2-3 minutes each side until it is seared and coloured. Set aside and sprinkle with lemon juice.
  • Grill the figs cut side down for a minute until soft. Remove from heat and slice in half.
  • Toss together the rocket, mint, figs, haloumi, lamb and pomegranate seeds in a bowl.
  • Mix 2 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb red wine vinegar to make a simple dressing.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the ingredients and toss gently to combine.
  • Season the salad with cracked pepper and salt to taste, though you probably won’t need salt, as the haloumi is quite salty.

Hints: Removing seeds from a pomegranate.

Unless you prefer to use a spoon to scoop the seeds out and go the Lady Macbeth look, you can fulfil your murderous desires with this simple seed-removal method, without the mess.

Cut the pomegranate in half and hold one half in your open palm over a large bowl, with the cut half facing into your palm. Give the back gentle but firm thwacks with a wooden spoon or rolling pin and the seeds will just pop out and run through your fingers into the bowl. No mess. You can ‘up’ the bongo tempo to get all the seeds out, but don’t get too enthusiastic, or else the skin will split and the pomegranate will lose its integrity.

Lamb and haloumi salad

Finally, it would be highly remiss of me not to include an Australia Day celebration cake. I won’t post the recipe today, but I made this cake decorated with the Australian flag. It was the most divine red velvet cake, but really quite hideous because of the lurid icing, combined with my unremarkable decorating skills.

Australia Day celebration cake

Australian flag

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