haloumi -n :: a salty white sheep or cow’s milk cheese from Greece or Turkey, usually eaten grilled. Also defined as: pure, unadulterated deliciousness. I typically see haloumi baked or grilled on restaurant menus which, for some reason, never appealed to me that much. But one night when we were at dinner in Aspen, I ordered the most addictive grilled haloumi salad and haven’t been able to get it off my mind since.
Haloumi is a great option for vegetarians, since grilling gives it such a satisfying golden crust on the outside and melty goodness on the inside…even carnivores wouldn’t miss the meat! As a main course option, I’d skewer with vegetables and grill, or serve on crusty bread with pesto and eggplant. For this first-course salad, I took a cue from Cypress tradition and served with cold sweet watermelon, though I added peppery arugula, mint-infused oil and balsamic to the mix. This would be such a welcome and unexpected addition to summer barbecue menus. Let me know if you give it a try, and be sure to leave a comment sharing any tweaks you made to the recipe!
Grilled Haloumi & Watermelon Salad
- 1 bunch fresh mint, stems removed, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces haloumi, drained
- 1/4 seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into small wedges
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
- reduced balsamic vinaigrette
- flaky sea salt (like Maldon) and freshly-cracked black pepper
- Heat oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add mint leaves, and let cook on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain out leaves, then store at room temperature in an opaque container for up to 1 week.
- Slice the haloumi into 1/3-inch slices. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high, brush the grate with olive oil, and grill the haloumi for about 2 minutes on each side (until heated through and grill marks show.)
- Create a bed of arugula on a platter, then top with watermelon wedges and grilled haloumi, slightly overlapping. Lightly drizzle the infused mint oil over everything.
- Sprinkle pistachios and mint leaves over top, drizzle generously with reduced balsamic and season with sea salt and pepper.
*serves 4 as a first-course