By Zoe Robinson, Streatham resident, festival writer and event manager
Until last month, if asked, I would have said that I didn’t really like prunes. I couldn’t remember when I had last tried them, but I had sub-consciously locked them away in a ‘boring dried fruit’ filing cabinet in my head, alongside figs, dates and those dubious mixtures that sit next to the till at service stations getting dusty. That was until I was persuaded to try one at a recent festival. I was told by the friendly woman on the California Prune stall that they are a good, healthy substitute for chocolate when you are having sweet cravings. As a staunch chocoholic I was going to take some convincing – I think may even have rolled my eyes and reluctantly popped a prune in my mouth to show willing.
It was – as promised – delicious. I am now a convert and do in fact eat a prune or two after lunch to quell my chocolate cravings. I was of course told that California Prunes are the best kind – that was why that little gem of fruity, soft, rich goodness was so yummy. I am yet to taste a non-Californian Prune so I cannot endorse their superiority.
I was also given a recipe booklet with some very interesting culinary uses for the humble, dried fruit. The below recipe is a variation on one I spotted in there. I was missing a few of the ingredients and am all for being creative in the kitchen so I kind of made it up.
My additions were the roasted garlic and the cucumber. I would never have considered using the latter until a couple of months ago either. I went to Cuba on my honeymoon and found the Cubans grill and BBQ cucumber – it works well in this dish as it adds freshness to the otherwise rich favours – the caramelised sweetness of the garlic and prunes, and the and saltiness of the halloumi.
Makes 8 skewers – perfect as a veggie main course for 4 people, or side dish or starter for 8
One packet of halloumi
Packet of prunes
One bulb of garlic (more if you want)
- Peel the garlic cloves, coat very lightly in olive oil and roast in a pre-heated oven for approx 10-15 mins – they should be slightly browned and softened, but not caramelised
- Meanwhile, cut the halloumi into 2cm square chunks
- Wash cucumber and roughly chop into 2-3cm chunks (keep the skin on)
- Work out the number of prunes you want for each skewer (I suggest 3 or 4) and place in a mixing bowl with the halloumi and cucumber chunks.
- Chop a handful of mint and sprinkle into bowl along with around 2 generous tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the ingredients.
- Put the cucumber, halloumi, prunes and garlic cloves on the skewers (you can use either disposable bamboo or the metal ones), alternating each ingredient to balance the flavours. (halloumi holds together quite well when cooking, but it can break up when skewering so be gentle)
- Cook under a hot grill or BBQ for 5-10 mins until the halloumi is slightly golden and lightly toasted, but the cucumber still has some crunch.
Chop more mint to sprinkle on top. Serve with salad as a starter, or for a veggie main course add rice, home-made potato wedges or potato salad.