This is one of those dishes I could easily eat once a week, which is exactly what I’ve done for the last two weeks. it’s easy, delicious, and really fresh tasting while remaining completely satisfying. It’s inspired by saag paneer, which is my absolute favorite Indian dish of all time for countless reasons – actually, saag paneer is my favorite Indian dish of all time because it’s baked cheese over silky greens…so…I guess there’s not countless reasons so much as just two really, really good reasons.
If you’ve ever had saag or saag paneer you’re probably familiar with its creamy texture and vaguely herby flavor situation. It’s literally just greens, but when it’s done right, it’s gorgeous. My riff takes a few liberties on the classic to keep it accessible and easy as a quick weeknight dinner, including eliminating any kind of long simmering process and swapping paneer for Halloumi, which I find is a bit easier to come by at the average grocery store. There’s also not tons of spices and seasonings, which can often be the reason people pause before attempting to cook an Indian dish – spices can be hard to find and can get expensive kinda quick, and so I’ve stuck with just the basics here.
To make the dish feel ultra-cozy, I serve it with homemade flatbreads. They’re very, very addictive little things and – at the risk of sounding repetitive – I could eat ’em every damn night. They’re wonderfully crispy on the outside, and pillowy soft and chewy on the inside. Homemade bread is another one of those things that people often assume is a difficult or day-long process, but that’s not always the case, and it’s certainly not the case with these flatbreads. They’re ready in less than an hour (and half of that is spent letting the dough hang out while you do things other than bake bread), they don’t require any yeast, and they’re great the next day after a quick zap in the oven.
The other bonus about this dinner is that it’s completely vegetarian and also exceptionally versatile: whatever greens you’ve got can be thrown in – if you don’t have kale, double the spinach; no spinach? some extra kale never hurt anyone; got some mustard greens or collards? Toss ’em in the pool. Wanna add some fun spices or cream (maybe even a lil coconut milk) and see what happens? Feel free! Have fun with it! The recipe below should be a good place to get started.
Baked Halloumi & Greens With Crispy Garlic Flatbreads
For the Baked Halloumi & Greens
- olive oil approx 2 tbsp
- butter approx 2 tbsp
- 2 shallots chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 Indian chili, finely chopped a jalapeno would work fine!
- 250 g spinach about 4-5 cups
- 250 g chopped kale about 4-5 cups
- salt and pepper to taste
- crushed chili flakes optional
- hot water
- 225 g halloumi sliced
- chili oil or fried cumin seeds optional, as garnish
For the Garlicky Flatbreads
- 2 cups AP flour sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sugar optional
- 3/4 cup sour cream Greek yogurt works here too
- 1/4 cup milk
- olive oil
- garlic salt, fresh chopped parsley optional, as garnish
For the Baked Halloumi & Greens
Preheat your oven to 200FAN or broil setting.
While the oven heats up, prepare your greens: drizzle a few tbsp olive oil and add a few tbsp of butter into a large saute pan and heat over medium heat until the butter is just melted.
Add the shallot, garlic and chili to the oil and butter and cook until the shallot is tender, taking care not to burn the garlic – about 6-8 minutes.
Transfer the shallot and garlic, as well as any remaining oil and butter, to a blender. Return the pan to the heat and add more oil to once again coat the bottom of the pan. Add the kale to the pan, add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and saute until it has reduced in size by half, stirring frequently so as not to burn the leaves, about 12 minutes or so. Add the kale to the blender and then repeat the process with the spinach (the spinach only takes about 3-4 minutes to cook), adding the crushed chili flakes to the spinach as it sautes, if you are adding them for spice.
Once everything is in the blender, begin to blend, adding hot water slowly to help the greens break down. Notes: I usually add about 1/3 cup water total, which helps the greens break down and blend, and gives me the texture/consistency I like, which is basically to completely blend the mixture without liquifying it. If you've ever had saag at an Indian restaurant, that's what we're going for here. You should be able to eat it with a fork (it shouldn't be spinach soup) but you don't want any actual leaves of kale or spinach to remain after you've blended it.
Pop the greens mixture into an oven safe dish and spread the mixture out evenly. Add the sliced halloumi to the top of the mixture, and then broil until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with the flatbread.
For the Flatbreads
Combine the dry ingredients in an oiled bowl.
Add the sour cream to the wet ingredients and combine; the dough will be crumbly and very sticky. Add the milk, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. Once it's come together, you don't need to add the rest of the milk if you haven't used the entire 1/4 cup. Conversely, if your dough hasn't come together after you've added 1/4 cup of milk, feel free to add a bit more (I would start with 1 tbsp) to achieve an ideal texture – the dough will be very sticky.
Once the dough has come together, sprinkle flour liberally onto your work surface. Knead the dough until it's formed a smooth ball, about 2 minutes or so. It will still be very sticky.
Pop the dough back in the oiled bowl (I usually clean the bowl out and re-oil it) and make sure it's coated in oil on all sides. Cover the dough with plastic wrap (or a towel) and allow it to hang out for at least 15 minutes, preferably half an hour. When you are ready to move on to the next step, heat a non-stick pan or skillet over medium heat to prepare to cook the flatbreads.
Remove the dough from the oiled bowl and turn it out onto a clean (un-floured) work surface. The oil on the dough should prevent it from sticking to your work top. Knead it a few more times until it's ultra smooth and then divide the ball into 6 equal sections. Form those sections into small balls.
Pick up each ball and stretch it kind of like pizza dough. You want each flatbread to be no more than about 1/2 an inch thick. Each ball that you stretch will take a slightly different shape – that's OK! We like rustic-looking food around here.
Drizzle a tbsp of olive oil into the hot skillet and cook the flatbread for about 2 minutes on the first side, until it's golden, and then flip and do the same on the next side. I usually press the flatbread down a bit after I flip it, almost like I were cooking a hamburger. After cooking each one, while it's still coated in some of the cooking oil, I brush it with olive oil mixed with some fresh parsley and then I dust each one with garlic salt. Repeat the process of adding oil to the pan and cooking the flatbreads until all 6 are finished. Keep the flatbreads covered on a warm plate or tray while you repeat the process to finish all 6 balls.