Monday, July 25, 2011

Grilled Halloumi with Watermelon and Basil-Mint Oil

One of the best things about cooking is when it surprises and interests you.  You come across a recipe, you decide to give it a shot and you are wowed.  Sometimes it's a good wow, sometimes it's a bad wow.  But it always teaches you something.  This recipe for instance - the combination of halloumi cheese plus watermelon, tomatoes, mint and basil could either go really right or really wrong.  But somehow it all works.  We have combined salty cheese and watermelon before, so I know that combination works.  But adding in tomatoes?  And drizzling them with basil and mint infused evoo?  It's all a little weird.  But like I said, it works.  It's surprising, interesting, and it works.  I've said that about ten times, but it does.  I'm just not sure what else to say.  Alex said the dish would have been better if the cheese had stayed warm (it cools and hardens until it has a consistency similar to cheese curds) and the watermelon had stayed cool.  I get what he means.  The salad would be a little more striking with the contrast in temperatures.  But it still wouldn't be my favorite watermelon salad.  Because the salad has hot cheese and tomatoes it's nowhere near as refreshing as this Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad.  And when I want a watermelon salad I want something light, fresh and delicious. This is delicious.  And interesting.  But it loses points when it comes to being light and fresh.

Recipe after the jump!

Grilled Halloumi with Watermelon and Basil-Mint Oil
July 2011

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint plus thinly sliced mint for garnish
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes on the vine
1 8–9-ounce package Halloumi cheese, cut crosswise into 8 slices
6 small triangles thinly sliced watermelon, rind removed

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Purée basil, 3 tablespoons mint, and garlic in a blender. With machine running, add 1/2 cup oil. Set a strainer over a small bowl; strain, pressing on solids. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush grill rack with oil. Drizzle 2 tablespoons basil-mint oil over tomatoes and cheese; season with salt and pepper. Grill tomatoes, turning occasionally, until charred and bursting, about 4 minutes. Grill cheese until nicely charred in spots and beginning to melt, about 45 seconds per side.

Arrange melon on a platter. Top with cheese and tomatoes. Drizzle remaining herb oil over; garnish with sliced mint.

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