feasting at home: Grilled Halloumi Salad with Mint Dressing

June 26, 2013

Grilled Halloumi Salad with Mint Dressing






This grilled "Greek Salad" is full of summertime flavor and is a good side dish for a sumer BBQ. It goes well with meat, and can be served on its own over a bed of dressed greens or cooked quinoa. For catering events, I will sometimes serve this as a vegetarian entree, stacking the eggplant, tomato and halloumi into a five inch tall napoleon, and skewering it with a tall sprig of rosemary. It's visually stunning. But at home, we serve it simple and rustic like this.




Between catering events, we try to be outside as much as possible. Quick camping trips, kayaking, or a hike here and there. But some days, it may end up only being a short walk, watering the garden, or sitting on the porch for a few minutes. One simple way to spend more time outdoors, is to cook dinner outside on the grill, and eat al fresco. During the summer months, cooking techniques shift to reflect the season. The oven is given a break and I try to use the grill more often, or quick stove top preparations. I try to stay away from ingredients that need lots of time braising or baking, opting for ones that cook quickly on the grill. This way the house stays cool and it allows more time outdoors.



Halloumi cheese, if you are unfamiliar, is a Greek style cheese that is firm in texture and full flavored. It tastes like feta, but has the consistency of a very firm mozzarella. The best thing about it is -it doesn't melt, making it perfect for grilling.  Feel free to add other grill-able vegetables like zucchini or summer squash, onions or bell peppers. The mint dressing is flavorful and bright.





Recently we spent a couple days kayaking with friends Jill and Lamont, down the Pend Orielle River near Metaline Falls. The river, winded gently in-between steep canyon walls topped with swaying fir and pine. There was no there but us . Where we camped, a thick layer of soft green moss and wild flowers covered the edge of the bank. 




Our dog Max came too.


We found the perfect spot to camp....all to ourselves. 




After we made camp, we took a sunset paddle. The water was calm and still as the sun began to disappear. 




A simple dinner was cooked right over the fire. We had the best seats in the house with a view overlooking the river .


 

Morning brought sunshine... and Lamont brought Jill a warm mug of coffee. 



I had mine looking out over the water.

 



Then we made a hearty breakfast to energize us for the rest of the paddle.
I had to sneak my cast iron skillet into one of my dry bags ( Brian, concerned about weight, would have nixed the idea). After having toasty "Egg Mc Muffins" for breakfast, I think he appreciated my strategy.




How good it feels to get away.  As much as I enjoy technology, I see how it slowly and dangerously takes over more and more of my time. When we are old, how will we feel about the time we spent in front of our screens? So I find myself battling hard to disconnect, struggling to find balance.  



Do you remember when you were young and played outside all day long during the summer months? Curfews changed with the light. Forts were built, bikes ridden, endless days filled with roller skating or skateboarding, running, swimming, racing, screaming. Being completely wild. In those days we wore ourselves out until the sun went down.  We went to bed, happy, exhilarated and exhausted. 

 




I miss that feeling.




Grilled Greek Salad with Halloumi



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Grilled Halloumi Salad by June-1-2013
A grilled greek salad with halloumi, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes and mint dressing

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium sized eggplants or 4 Japanese eggplants 
  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes ( red and yellow) 
  • 8 oz haloumi cheese
  • 1/3 C olive oil for brushing 
  • salt

Mint Dressing: 


  • 1/4 C mint leaves- packed 
  •  1/4 C Italian parsley- packed 
  • 1/4 C olive oil 
  • 1/8 C fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 T water 1 small garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/4 tsp salt cracked pepper 
  •  Garnish with a few mint leaves
Instructions:



Slice Eggplant to 1/3 inch thick pieces and sprinkle each side with salt. Let sit for 30 min or up to 1 hour. Eggplant will begin to sweat, releasing some of its bitterness. Rinse well, Drain, pat dry.

Pre-heat grill, to med-high.

Slice tomatoes to 1/2 inch thick. Brush both sides with olive oil, place on baking sheet. Slice halloumi into 1/2 inch thick pieces, brush with olive oil, place on the same baking sheet. Pat dry eggplant and brush both sides generously with olive oil, place on backing sheet.
Make dressing. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor...adding a little more water (only if necessary) to get the blender going. Do not blend too smooth... you want to see pieces of the herbs.
Grill eggplant slices, covering grill, checking heat to make sure they don't burn, rotating as necessary. Eggplant is done when the white becomes slightly translucent. Stack them on a heat proof dish and cover tightly with foil so they continue cooking through. You could place this on your upper grill rack if you have one, or just set aside, covered. Grill tomato slices, just a few minutes on each side. If you grill too long, they will fall apart, so just a couple minutes, just to warm them is enough.
Grill the Halloumi cheese just until grill marks appear.
Arrange all on a platter, layering drizzle with the dressing and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve at room temp. 
If you want to serve this Napoleon Style- a stacked individual portion, layer eggplant, tomato, and haloumi spooning a little mint dressing on each layer, until 4-5 inches tall. Skewer with a skewer or sturdy rosemary sprig ( removing bottom rosemary leaves).
Details: Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6