Mon Jul 26, 2010
It's kind of embarrassing that my recipe reserve currently out numbers what's actually on the blog. I'm sure you can understand that's hard to find the time to actually write about something when the grill sits just feet away, constantly beckoning. Being more prolific in cooking than writing, I often forget all of those photos laying dormant in Lightroom, just waiting to see the light of day. It's thanks to super Meatwaver Lindsay that this little gem came out of the closet.
She was talking up some exciting changes to a local bar at our Meativersary and got into how they even have a watermelon and haloumi salad, although it didn't compare to the one I had made a couple years back. With that, all the fond memories of this simple and wildly awesome salad came back, forcing me to spew out words to you describing the deliciousness a salty cheese and sweet melon can create when combined together.
Living in such a Greek heavy neighborhood as Astoria, you're bound to uncover come hidden gems in the cuisine, and no discovery excites me more than haloumi cheese. In it's raw state, it's not all that—too hard and tough to really enjoy—but when cooked, it's nothing short than a masterpiece. Such a dense and rigid cheese can withstand the high heat of the grill, and when given a nice sear, the cheese loosens up just enough to make it easily chewable with the added bonus of crispy crust. Just thinking about that salty, squeaky cheese is making my mouth water right now.
Normally we grill up some haloumi and enjoy it as is or wrap it in a pita with some tzatziki, tomatoes, and onions, but for some reason, the day that I made this, I had an urge to find something different to do with it. After a little reading around the interweb, I found that it's not uncommon to find it paired with watermelon, which sounded like a match made in heaven.
Never seen or had watermelon and haloumi together before, devising their union was left to my imagination. I thought dicing the two and labeling it a "salad" would be appropriate, but I felt it would need just a little extra accent in flavor and color, with mint seeming like it would fit the bill nicely.
With my ingredients in place, it came time for the awesomeness of grilling haloumi. Watching the cheese blister and brown filled me to the brim with excitement, and it was a fruitless effort trying to restrain myself from eating a slice before getting on to the important business of constructing the salad.
Since haloumi is best while it's still warm, I had the watermelon and mint all prepped, so as soon as the cheese was cubed and tossed in, the salad could be enjoyed. There was so much good stuff going on here, sweet and cool watermelon playing with the salty and warm cheese, the unmistakable mint adding some freshness, and a little black pepper giving just a hint of spice.
As I look back on this, there's nothing but warm memories. I remember how refreshing this was on a hot day, and thinking that it could really fit into almost any summer menu. I'm also thinking it's about time I relive these memories, and this just might have to make an appearance in the next Meatwave line-up.
Grilled Halloumi & Watermelon Salad
1/2 large seedless watermelon
3 heaping tablespoons of chiffonades of fresh mint
1lb halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Light one chimney full of charcoal. While the charcoal is lighting, dice the watermelon into one-inch cubes and toss with the mint.
2. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill the halloumi until it browns and starts to blister on each side, about one to three minutes per side.
3. Immediately dice the halloumi into half-inch cubes and toss in with watermelon and mint. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.