Halloumi cheese from Cyprus grills beautifully, and make a wonderful meatless “barbecue” to combine with your garden produce. It’s a great way to reduce your meat intake, if you want to do that, or just have a lovely and healthy meal.
First, catch your salad. You need a goodly quantity of the freshest salad greens, and it tastes best if some sharp flavors like young mustard, arugula, and herbs are included. My choice for this meal is a smallish bunch each of young mustard and arugula, with a few baby lettuce leaves (preferably red, for contrast,) about a quarter cup of a finely chopped combination of parsley and cilantro, a few fronds of fennel chopped, and about a teaspoon of thyme leaves. If I were using store-bought greens, I’d use half young letture and half watercress, plus the herbs, for a sharp but not aggressive taste. Commercial mustard greens are too mature and strong to use in salads. A handful of chopped chives or shallot greens is a great addition. Remember, herbs are loaded with antioxidants, and they taste great. For two people, you need about a quart of mixed salad greens, tightly packed.
Now locate your Halloumi. La Montanita Co-op and Whole Foods both have it in our area. Then you can proceed with the cooking part:
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
5 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup lemon juice
6 teaspoons chopped cilantro
4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup capers (rinsed and soaked if salt-cured)
Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in your mortar and pestle (see my recipe page under Herbs for more about this) Pound until nicely amalgamated. Set aside. If you use the food processor instead, be careful to leave it with a vigorous texture. Avoid processing to mush.
2 ¼ pounds Cypriot Halloumi cheese, cut into 16 cubes
A few tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat a gas barbecue to medium heat, or let a coal barbecue heat until all coals are mostly white. Coat the cheese lightly with the olive oil. Grill the cheese cubes until they have caramelized on at least two sides. If you don’t feel like grilling, cook them on the stove in a heavy, hot skillet.
Meanwhile, lightly toast two or four whole wheat pitas, depending on appetite.
While the cheese finishes browning lightly, put the hot pitas on plates, two to a plate if you’re really hungry. Toss the greens and herbs with some of the sauce, pile them on the pitas, and distribute the hot cheese cubes on top. Drizzle with more of the sauce and eat. Even an avid carnivore is unlikely to feel shortchanged.
You will probably have a good bit of leftover sauce, and can use it to dress a little pasta for a quick one-person meal. Crumble on a little feta or Kefalotyri if you like.
A delicious variation is to hard-boil two or three eggs per person and slice them. Spread the slices over the dressed greens, and dribble on the sauce. It makes a nice post-Easter lunch, when you’re sick of looking at those eggs.
ADDENDUM: A friend who follows my blog gently pointed out that the sauce in the picture couldn’t be the one in the recipe. Major oops: I posted the wrong picture. But the pictured dressing is delicious on grilled halloumi too, so I decided to leave the picture and add the recipe for Tahini Dressing. Crush a clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle with half a teaspoon of salt. Add the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of tahini. Stir untilwell amalgamated, and add enough olive oil to give the consistency of thick cream. I usually use about 3 tablespoons, or a little more. Use a little plain olive oil to dress your greens, arrange them on a pita, and scatter the Halloumi cubes on top. Drizzle over the dressed greens and grilled Halloumi.