I currently hail from Astoria, NY, where it's impossible to take a step without hitting a Greek restaurant. It didn't take me long to find an affinity to the cuisine indigenous to my neighborhood, and after being a resident for six years and counting, there have been more than a few extraordinary discoveries.
But none get me quite as much as halloumi, a salty hard cheese made of goat and sheep's milk that comes to life when grilled or pan fried. After cooked, I usually enjoy this cheese with a dash of lemon juice or stuffed in a pita with tzatziki and all the toppings, but I heard that Cypriots particularly like halloumi with watermelon--and that idea had "perfect summer salad" written all over it.
There really isn't much to grilling halloumi, just slice and slap it on a hot grill until it blisters, then it's done. It's best while still warm, so I made sure to have the watermelon cut, tossed with chiffonades of fresh mint, before heading to the grill with the cheese.
As soon as the cheese was beautifuly browned, I diced it, mixed it in with the watermelon and mint, and then added freshly ground black pepper to top it off. Despite the small list of the ingredients, every flavor was so unique that it became quite the complex salad; it was cool and warm, sweet and salty, spicy and minty, all of which combined to make a refreshing side that I can see fitting into almost any summer menu.
- 1/2 large seedless watermelon
- 3 heaping tablespoons of chiffonades of fresh mint
- 1lb halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch tall strips
- Freshly ground black pepper
Light one chimney full of charcoal. While the charcoal is lighting, dice the watermelon into one-inch cubes and toss with the mint.
When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly over the charcoal grate. Grill the halloumi until it browns and starts to blister on each side, about one to three minutes per side.
Immediately dice the halloumi into half-inch cubes and toss in with watermelon and mint. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.