Sunday, 5 October 2008

Lentil Salad and the Dream Festival

I woke this morning with the sun streaming in the bedroom window. We ate breakfast in the backyard. Now that we are in October it well and truly feels like spring in our garden. There are lots of new buds on our lemon and lime trees. The mint is colonising the parsley pot. New bay leaves are sprouting. The change of the season feels well and truly upon up when the clocks go forward for daylight saving (which is even earlier this year).

I had my first peach of the season yesterday. A pleasing sign that summer is on the way. But really it is the hopeful young buds of spring rather than the fierce heat of summer that I love. The sun is warm and washing dries quickly, but it is not yet so hot that it will burn our noses or the cat’s ears. However despite dreading the fierce heat of summer, we have stone fruit, berries and dinner in the backyard to look forward to.

Meanwhile it was a fine spring day to be outside. We headed in to town to join the crowds at Birrarung Marr Park by the Yarra River where the Dream Festival is being held this weekend. It is a festival of art and music with a silly name but great spectacle. The park was filled with rows and rows of strange white characters that in a Dr Who episode would come to life and try and take over the planet Earth (probably friends of the Daleks). Plus there was ambient electronic music with a hint of neo-prog (that is E's description).

There was also an exhibition of giant blow-up ‘art installations’ (up to 8 foot high) on the water who looked like they might attack Dr Who. It felt quite odd to be walking along the floating walkway to view the installations in the river. But enjoyable to view these characters which were an interesting mixture of fun, spooky and thoughtful.

I hope the sunny photos of my afternoon will put you in the mood for a salad. This is one I have dug out of my backlog which I made on a day just like this back in September not so long ago. Perfect for celebrating fine spring weather.

I found the recipe on which has a great archive of recipes from Australian foodie magazines. I reduced the lentils, added some asparagus for extra greenery and made a few other small changes. It was a fantastically quick and easy dinner. So good in fact that I am sending this to Sra of When My Soup Came Alive who is hosting the fourth helping of My Legume Love Affair which was founded by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Lentil Salad with Haloumi and Asparagus
(adapted from Super Food Ideas - March 2004 , Page 57)
Serves 4

1 x 400g can brown lentils, drained and rinsed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved and sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 sprigs of mint leaves, shredded
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
250g block haloumi cheese, sliced in 4
250g asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
Olive oil spray
Lemon wedges to serve

Combine lentils, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint, lemon juice, garlic and oil in a bowl. Season then toss to combine.

Heat large non-stick frying pan and then spray with olive oil spray. Place haloumi in frypan and position asparagus around haloumi (we had this over two nights so were able to cook the asparagus with the haloumi which gave the asparagus some pleasing flavour). Cook til haloumi is golden on each side – about 2 minutes the first side and a little less on the second side. Drain haloumi on kitchen towels.

Serve lentil salad accompanied by warm haloumi and asparagus. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the haloumi. The lentil salad can be made a day ahead.

On the stereo:
fabriclive.07 – John Peel


  1. This was sounding good, but I really perked up when I read that you were adding halloumi, my favourite!

    Those sculptures must have been something else! What a great day you had!

  2. I want to move where you are! So much growing already, at the beginning of spring? Sounds like heaven to me. And I had to laugh at those big white characters--the HH introduced me to Dr. Who and I can totally see them in an episode! Looks like a very entertaining event--and what glorious weather for it, too. :)

  3. Your pictures of the dream festival look amazing, I cant wait to get Oz & I will, 1 day!!!
    Im so jealous of the sunshine, Im still waiting for our summer, its long long over due

  4. Melbourne one day perfect - the next rain, grey and hail forecast!

    The salad does look good but it might take me a while to recover from last nights lentilfest first!

  5. Mmm I adore Halloumi! Definitely one of my favourites (and I love too, it's another of my addictions).

  6. What fun! What a great day out.

    It may not be summer here any more (sadly - and not that we have a great summer, anyway), but I'd still love your salad.

  7. Thanks Holler - halloumi is something that always tastes so good I wonder why I don't have it more often!

    Thanks Ricki - yes please move over this way but be prepared for a lovely sunny day followed by a grey cold rainy day like today

    thanks Flower - yes the sun is a wondrous thing after grey days of winter (or summer as may be your case) but it can be so harsh at the height of summer!

    thanks AOF - it does seem like yesterday was summer and today is back to winter doesn't it! And too many lentils makes me feel like the Young Ones!

    Thanks Vegetation - is a great source of inspiration! I must go there more

    thanks AForkful - sometimes the weather makes me crave salads and sometimes salads can bring some sunshine into a gloomy day - sounds like you need the later!

  8. Oh god, those blow up sculptured angered me. Is this where public art money is going nowdays even though they are also sponsored by NAB?

    They are just blown up replicas of artworks that have been created, not even commissioning the artists for the festival is insane! What I want to know is what they did with all that cash in the end?

  9. hi bunches - it didn't feel like a waste of money when a lot of people get out and enjoy themselves seeing art - and I understand that works were created by Australian artists for the festival

  10. What great photos of the sculptures! Every year we have sculpture Key West where artists from all of the world come and display their work down at the park by the beach. I will have to post when our festival takes place. So glad spring is upon you! I am looking forward to winter coming upon us! In fact, I just planted my first two tomato plants of the season.
    Yummy looking lentil salad. I am trying to eat more vegetarian and will be adding this one to my list!

  11. Thanks Deb - I really like open air art - sort of seems a nice addition to a park as well as giving the artwork an interesting context - hope you do post on the festival in Key West - sounds great! And am sure your tomatoes would taste great in this salad :-)

  12. Oh Johanna, I thought I had commented but I just realised I hadn't. Thank you for the entry, and I enjoyed reading your description and enjoyment of spring.

  13. no problem sra - will be looking forward to your round up :-)


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