This watermelon and grilled halloumi salad is a winning combination of refreshing watermelon and the briny savory flavor of halloumi cheese. Making it a perfect summertime dish. Slices of halloumi cheese are grilled until crispy on the outside and slightly melty inside. Delish!
Wait – what did you just read? Grilling cheese?
Early this summer, Nancy, a foodie friend sent me an email asking if I had tried halloumi cheese and how I was preparing it. Our interest was piqued as we read that halloumi cheese is showing up as a dining experience favorite.
The Food Network article showcases Cheese on Fire as a dish “Modelled after Greek saganaki, a flaming fried cheese dish, this dish features springy halloumi cheese that’s doused in a bit of absinthe and seared tableside to flaming perfection. The cheese is paired with honey and flatbread”.
Well now, after reading this I thought it is time to give it a try!
So, what is the right combination with grilled halloumi? If you think watermelon and feta is a good combo, just WAIT until your try this watermelon and grilled halloumi recipe!
It’s been so darn hot, that my body welcomes the refreshing deliciousness of watermelon to keep me hydrated. Now, combine that with a cheese that reminds me of eating cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair – You can’t go wrong with this light summer dish.
IN THIS POST, YOU WILL LEARN:
- WHAT IS HALLOUMI CHEESE?
- BENEFITS OF EATING WATERMELON
- WHAT'S IN THIS SALAD
- HOW TO COOK AND USE HALLOUMI CHEESE
- HOW TO MAKE FRESH MINT DRESSING
WHAT IS HALLOUMI CHEESE?
Halloumi is a semi-hard, white, brined cheese typically made from the milk of goats and sheep and sometimes also cows. It’s known for its tangy taste and firm, squeakiness, and chewy texture. Biting into the cheese it is “squeaky” - similar to cheese curds found here in the midwest.
It’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years in Cyprus. Today, it’s often featured on the menus of Greek restaurants, found at Greek supermarkets and most supermarkets that carry specialty cheeses. I have found it at Kowalski’s and Trader Joes in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
Thanks to its high melting point, it doesn’t melt in the same way as, say, a Monterey jack or cheddar. It sears and colors quickly when it hits the hot grill. The interior softens, but the cheese doesn’t melt; it just warms up invitingly.
It’s slightly salty, holds its shape beautifully, and is high in protein and calcium.
And while it may not be vegan, it does make a terrific vegetarian meat alternative. When grilled or pan-seared, halloumi will turn crunchy on the outside and slightly gooey on the inside.
It’s the perfect blend of textures, and since it’s naturally salty, you won’t need to add anything to it.
BENEFITS OF EATING WATERMELON
There is so much more to watermelons than just a summer snack. The fruit contains many health benefits; it has a high-water content, is low in calories, high in nutrients such as carotenoids, vitamin C and cucurbitacin E.
Watermelon not only helps improve your digestion, it’s also good for your skin and hair, which makes it an ideal hydrating fruit for the hot humid weather in July and August.
WHAT'S IN THIS WATERMELON AND GRILLED HALLOUMI SALAD?
There are just a few ingredients in this salad, making it come together in minutes!
- Watermelon – Pick up a ripe seedless watermelon, that makes it easier to avoid having to pick out the seeds when tossing the salad.
- Arugula – If you are not a fan of arugula you can substitute kale, spinach or use a mix of the power greens
- Halloumi Cheese – Of course you can always substitute with feta but, don’t grill feta!
- Green onion or thinly sliced red onion - I prefer the bright hue and full-bodied flavor of red onions.
- Avocado (optional)
- Pickled Fennel (optional) - Check out this recipe to make your own PIckled Fennel
- Fresh Mint Dressing made with pear-infused vinegar, honey, lemon juice, mint, vanilla and olive oil. Find the measurements in the recipe card and helpful tips for making mint vinaigrette below in the Tips & Tricks section.
HOW TO COOK AND USE HALLOUMI CHEESE?
Grill it or pan-fry - you'll love cooking halloumi at home.
When frying or grilling halloumi cheese, make sure the slices are not too thin and do not cook too many at the same time, as the moisture from the cheese is released into the pan initially. Frying in smaller batches results in quickly crisping the outside of the halloumi leaving the slightly melty soft inside. If you crowd your pan they will need to cook longer to crisp up and the middle texture will be warm but tough.
Enjoy it on its own, in a salad with roasted vegetables or as a vegetarian burger.
HOW TO FRY HALLOUMI
Cut the halloumi lengthwise into ½ inch slices. You should have about 6 pieces from a 9 oz package.
Heat olive oil in a non-stick or a cast iron skillet and over medium heat. Once the oil is hot – it sizzles when you dip the end of a piece of halloumi in it – you can begin frying the cheese. Careful. Olive oil has a relatively low smoking point of about 320 degrees. Keep an eye on the heat.
Carefully, add halloumi slices to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side for another 1-2mins.
Continue flipping until all edges are golden brown and crunchy.
HOW TO GRILL HALLOUMI
Preheat your BBQ or grill.
Cut the halloumi into ½ inch slices, drizzle with olive oil. Using your hands work the oil into both sides of the cheese slice .
Then cook for 5 minutes, turning regularly, until golden brown on all sides.
CAN YOU EAT HALLOUMI RAW?
Although many people eat halloumi pan-seared or grilled, you can enjoy halloumi cheese fresh or uncooked.
HOW TO STORE HALLOUMI
An open package of halloumi (uncooked) can be stored in in an airtight container or sandwich bag for up to 3 days.
If you need to keep it around longer, make a simple salt brine by combining 2 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix until the salt dissolves, then pour over uncooked halloumi in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
I understand you can also freeze halloumi. Simply cut your halloumi into slices, wrap tightly and freeze to use later. Let me know if you try this method!
CAN YOU REHEAT HALLOUMI?
While you can reheat cooked halloumi, halloumi (either fried or grilled) is best when it's served immediately. It tends to become rubbery when cooled after cooking.
HOW TO MAKE FRESH MINT DRESSING
This fresh mint dressing compliments the watermelon and balances the briny flavor of Halloumi. The dressing is bright in color and flavor, tangy from the pear vinegar and balanced with a touch of vanilla and honey.
Making mint dressing is easy, but it can be a challenge to get the perfect emulsion: that’s when the oil and vinegar combine into a creamy texture instead of separating.
Over the years, I’ve found a few tips for making a perfect emulsion:
- Use a medium-sized bowlto allow for enough movement of the whisk. Trust me on this one, I’ve done it in small bowls or jars and it’s almost impossible to get the oil and vinegar to meld and not separate.
- Whisk the ingredients by hand or use a hand blender. Start with the vinegar, mint, honey and vanilla.
- Add the olive oil slowly and gradually:I typically add it tablespoon by tablespoon and whisk in between until the oil fully incorporates. If using a hand blender, you can add slowly a steady stream of oil.
- Add Salt and Pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you like it sweeter add more honey, if you want more of a vanilla hit, add about ¼ teaspoon at a time.FR
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Watermelon and Grilled Halloumi Salad with Mint Dressing
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For the salad
- 2 cups watermelon 1 -inch cubes
- 2 cups of mixed hearty greens such as arugula, kale and/or spinach can also be used
- ⅛ cup thinly sliced red onions
- 4-5 ounces Halloumi cheese
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ avocado cubed (optional)
- Pickled Fennel (optional) ;Click Here for Pickled Fennel Recipe
- Sea salt
Fresh Mint Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ bunch fresh mint
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons champagne/pear-infused/white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Make the Mint Dressing. Read the above section: How to Make Mint Dressing. I recommend making the entire dressing recipe and saving leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature prior to serving.
- Grill the Halloumi Cheese. Preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Slice the halloumi into ½-inch-thick planks. Using your hands, rub both sides with olive oil. Place the cheese on the hot grill, reducing the heat to medium. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes then flip. Grill for another 1-2 minutes and flip until well-charred. Remove from the grill, placing on a serving platter and drizzle with mint dressing.
- Assemble the Salad. Place the arugula, watermelon, onion, pickled fennel and avocado in a serving bowl. Toss with the mint dressing, reserving some to pass and drizzle over the grilled cheese. Pass the salad and the platter of halloumi cheese individually, allowing your guest to top their salad with a grilled cheese “plank”. Drizzle with reserved vinaigrette and enjoy! Serve while the cheese is still warm.
Your Notes, Tips and Tricks
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.