It’s grilling season and I’m pumped. We’ve had a grill for years, yet I’ve only used it myself on a handful of occasions. Most likely because my husband, like most men, enjoys manning it. In Michael Pollan’s book, Cooked, he ventures that while this phenomenon may date back to the cavemen days of men cooking by fire, the likelier reality is that women, traditionally kept in kitchens, are the ones who allow men to grill since they’re happy to have an extra set of hands helping with meal preparation. I think he’s on to something there. But I digress.
This summer, girl meets grill. Excited and unafraid, I started with Grilled Watermelon & Halloumi Salad.
If you love contrasting yet complimentary flavors in your meals, you'll love this. Sweet watermelon retains its juiciness and picks up a subtle charred flavor and it perfectly paired with salty halloumi cheese that gets crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Couple that with grilled romaine and tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, and you have a unique summer salad that you didn’t even know was missing from your life.
Note: Halloumi cheese is becoming more readily available at grocery stores like Trader Joes. Feel free to substitute with a similar grilling cheese like saganaki.
Small watermelon, sliced 1-inch thick across (2-3 slices needed total)
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes (preferably on vine, easier to grill)
8-9 oz package Halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
6-8 romaine leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped or julienned
2 tablespoons fresh mint, coarsely chopped or julienned
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare grill to high, carefully oil grill grates
Drizzle olive oil over watermelon, tomatoes, romaine and cheese, then lightly salt and pepper
Place watermelon and romaine leaves on grill first, turning once (approx. 2-3 minutes per side)
Add tomatoes next, grill for approx. 4 minutes total, turning periodically until tomatoes burst and get charred
Plate above ingredients (close hood to ensure grill stays hot)
Then grill cheese for about 45 seconds—1 minute per side, until cheese starts to melt and get char marks
Remove cheese from grill, plate on top of rest of ingredients
Drizzle olive oil (if desired) and balsamic vinegar over salad
Sprinkle basil and mint for finishing touch, and eat immediately!
Important safety note: to prevent sticking, always carefully oil your grill grates. You’ll need grill tongs, a bowl of vegetable oil and paper towels. Quickly soak a folded-up paper towel in the oil and carefully coat the grill grates with grill tongs. Do not use spray oils, that is dangerous and you could get hurt!
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit | Grilled Halloumi with Watermelon and Basil-Mint Oil