Leaves of fresh mint and peppery arugula are tossed with crunchy pistachios, luscious figs and slices of crispy haloumi cheese in this unusual salad, which highlights some traditional Middle Eastern ingredients. A sprightly vinaigrette with pistachio oil and pomegranate molasses marries the flavors.
If you don't have pistachio oil, make our Pomegranate Vinaigrette instead.
Haloumi cheese — a mixture of cow, goat and sheep's milk — is native to Cyprus. Salty, with a very dense and rubbery texture, haloumi is meant to be sliced and grilled in a skillet, not eaten raw. The cheese melts and softens, but also forms a crispy golden surface in the process. Look for haloumi in well-stocked supermarkets and specialty stores.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the pistachio oil, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice in a small jar, seal tightly and shake to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside at room temperature. The dressing may be refrigerated for 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature and shake vigorously before using.
Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick or seasoned cast iron) over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add some of the cheese slices and cook for 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the cheese is golden brown. Carefully turn the slices with a spatula and continue cooking until the other side is brown and crispy, 2 more minutes. Cook the cheese in batches so there's room in the skillet to turn the slices.
Transfer the cooked halloumi to a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels and let cool, blotting the top of the cheese with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Repeat with the remaining cheese slices. Set aside at room temperature.
Place the arugula and mint in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add half of the vinaigrette to the arugula-mint mixture and toss to coat the leaves lightly. Taste and add more vinaigrette as needed.
Transfer the greens to a large platter (or divide among salad plates). Arrange the fig halves and halloumi slices atop the salad and garnish with a scattering of pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.