Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Meyer Lemons with Spring Greens

>>  Thursday, May 05, 2011

Spring is finally, finally here. After a rough, rough winter, it really feels like a sigh of relief.

As you may know, I was in Greece a couple weeks ago. If any of you are thinking about getting away to "warm and sunny" Greece during the spring - forget it! It was just as cold there, if not colder than Boston. I ended up wearing all my warm clothes that I had intended for London (the first portion of my Europe trip). Ironically, London was warm and balmy by comparison.

Yes, I guess freaks of nature happen.

Anyway, when I was in Greece, I got to try one of my favorite cheeses there. Halloumi (or χαλούμι in Greek), is a traditional cheese originating from Cyprus. It is made from a combination of sheep's milk and goat's milk. What's unique about halloumi cheese is that it has a really high melting point, so you can safely grill it without it melting!

I am so in love with this cheese. It reminds me a bit of mozarella, but much more aged, complex, briny, and dense. It's almost squeaks a bit when you bite it, sort to like cheese curds.

Although this cheese used to be hard to find and only available locally in the Mediterranean region, it has become very popular more recently. Nowadays, you can find halloumi in many specialty markets all around the world. I bought mine at Broadway Market in Cambridge, but I'm pretty certain you can find it in other places like Whole Foods and the like.

Grilled Halloumi cheese from a restaurant in Delphi, Greece

If you can find halloumi cheese, it's really easy to prepare. Frankly, if you just grill it and serve it, it will already taste really really good. That's how I had it in Greece (see photo above), accompanied by a simple lemon wedge and some fresh vegetables.

If you feel inspired, you can also bring it up a level by grilling some Meyer lemon slices and stacking it all up into one pretty tower, layering spring greens with the cheese and the lemons.

Of course, if you don't feel like taking the time to stack, the dish will taste just as good simply thrown together like a salad.

This "recipe" is so simple there's really no need for one. However, for those of you who like some direction, feel free to use the "recipe" below.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Meyer Lemons with Spring Greens
1 package of halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices  (about 8 oz)
Mixed spring greens (2-4 cups)
1-2 Meyer lemons, sliced thinly 1/4 inch thick

Put the cheese and lemons directly on a hot grill ( I used a preheated grill pan) and cook until nicely charred and slightly golden brown, flipping the cheese and lemons once (after about 3-4 minutes for the cheese and 4-6 minutes for the lemon).

If making a salad, toss the greens with Meyer lemon vinaigrette and top with grilled lemons and halloumi cheese. If serving in stacks, starting with a bed of greens on the bottom, layer the cheese, lemons, and greens in an alternating fashion in a stack.


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