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Leeks and Lentils With Fried Halloumi

Leeks and Lentils With Fried Halloumi 2.000

Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Oct 5, 2021

Reaching for canned lentils means you can pull this dish together quickly. If cheese isn’t your thing, try roasted sweet potato cubes on top of the lentils, or, if you’re a meat eater, the lentil base also works well with fried chicken or sauteed salmon fillets, too. Any leftover halloumi can be chopped and added to salads or curries. Depending on how many people you want to feed, this dish from "The Slimming Foodie" by Pip Payne easily scales up.

Total time: 30 mins

Make Ahead: The lentil mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

2 - 3

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-3 servings

  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed (See NOTE)
  • 4 medium leeks (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total), trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or finely grated
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans green lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 generous cup no-salt vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fine sea or table salt
  • Finely ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • Small handful of fresh parsley leaves, coarse stems removed, finely chopped, for serving


In a medium, deep-sided skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the leeks and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils, stock, tomato paste, mustard, thyme and lemon juice. Lightly season with the salt and pepper, then stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large, dry nonstick skillet, add the cheese slices in a single layer and sear until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a flat plate or tray.

When the lentils are done, stir the spinach into it until wilted, then remove from the heat. Divide the mixture among serving bowls, top with the halloumi slices and scatter with the parsley. Serve warm.

NOTE: The original recipe from "The Slimming Foodie," which features recipes with 600 or fewer calories, called for using low-calorie cooking spray instead of oil and did not specify the weight of the leeks. It came in at 518 calories; ours is slightly higher.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “The Slimming Foodie” by Pip Payne (Octopus, 2021)

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (1 1/3 cups lentils and 4 slices of halloumi), based on 3: 637

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 15g 23%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 37mg 12%

Sodium: 538mg 22%

Total Carbohydrates: 91g 30%

Dietary Fiber: 26g 104%

Sugar: 16g

Protein: 39g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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