This was my play on an Italian tricolore salad, using fried halloumi cheese stacked with fresh tomato and dotted with tender black olives and strewn with shredded mint. Rich, crisp, bright and fresh. This is so easy to make but with a little olive oil poured over it becomes this extraordinary salad. High in calories? A little, but ever so good.

Serves 6

  • 250g halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm slices
  • 3–4 large fresh tomatoes
  • 125g pitted soft black olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch of mint, shredded
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • salt to taste

Warm your serving dish.

Place the cheese slices on a plate and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place a large heavy-based frying pan on the hob and get it moderately hot. Pour a little olive oil over the surface then place some of the cheese slices in the hot pan. Adjust the heat so the cheese turns golden and crisp on the base in about a minute, then flip them over, cook the over side then scoop them out of the pan and on to a warm plate. Do the same with the remaining slices.

Slice the tomatoes then layer with the cooked cheese on the serving plate. Season with a little salt, toss the olives over the surface and sprinkle with the mint. Then all you need to do is drizzle with olive oil, squeeze on a little lemon juice to taste – I like to be generous with the lemon – and serve. It’s the sort of dish you need to eat immediately so only make enough to just get your guests excited.

Other ways I like to serve it: sometimes I slice 1–2 cloves of garlic thinly and place them in the base of a dish with the leaves from 3–4 sprigs of fresh thyme. I put the slices of halloumi in the dish, flip them over a few times so the garlic oil coats the cheese then I leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes, sometimes all day, before frying. This adds a subtle garlic and herb flavour that complements the tomatoes without tasting overly powerful. Delicacy is the key with this dish.