- 400 g asparagus spears, trimmed, rinsed and dried
- 5 T olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 300 g halloumi
- For the Turkish rice pilau:
- 185 g basmati rice
- a pinch salt
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T butter
- 3 T orzo or rice vermicelli
- 2 cups chicken, vegetable stock or water
- a squeeze lemon juice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line 2 small baking trays with baking paper.
2. Arrange the asparagus on one tray in a single layer. Moisten with 2–3 T olive oil and season.
3. Cut the halloumi in half and place on another tray. Moisten with 2 T oil. Roast for 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and the cheese softened and starting to bronze.
4. To make the Turkish rice pilau, soak the rice in hot water with a good pinch salt for about 10 minutes. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan. Stir in the orzo or vermicelli and keep stirring until well browned.
5. Stir in the drained rice, then pour in the stock. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer very gently for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat.
6. Uncover and place a clean tea towel or paper towels on the rice. Cover and leave to stand for 5–15 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.
7. Serve the asparagus and thickly sliced cheese on the Turkish rice pilau. Pass around lemon wedges.
Cook's note: Roast the asparagus and cheese at the same time, then pile it all onto the pilau. In Turkey, the rice used is Baldo or Calrose, but you can use basmati or arborio rice. I used basmati rice and rice vermicelli – a good combo.