Monday, July 11, 2011
Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Grape Salsa
OPA! Don't you love going to a Greek restaurant and watching them light the halloumi cheese on fire then yell OPA? We do too. Last time we were at Jungle Jim's, we bought a package of halloumi cheese. The expiration date was October of 2011, so I was in no rush to find an excuse to grill it. Then, along came the June/July issue of Fine Cooking. A grilling issue. With an article about 13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Grill. Except, we'd already grilled 10 of the 13. Not a bad record.
Here are the 13 things: nuts, fruit, pizza, shellfish, quesadillas, salad, olives, avocados, bacon, flatbread, cake, herbs and cheese. Some of our favorite grilled goodies from that list include Caesar Pizza,
Smoked Goat Cheese,
Grilled Rosemary Old Fashioneds,
Grilled Fruit a
and Cat Cora's Grilled Guacamole.
I read the page to Connie and we had a good laugh over how many of the items we'd actually tried - most of them more than once. Then, I turned the page and there was a homerun recipe. It sounded like it'd make a perfect appetizer for Saturday evening. Not that we typically have appetizers when it's just the two of us. But, what a fun idea.
What did we think? The recipe says you can actually make a dinner out of this. Had I not had my version of bangers and mash already underway, this would have been dinner. Fabulous. Fantastic. Absolute five. Grilling the grapes concentrated their flavor. I made a couple of small changes. The recipe didn't call for grilling either the garlic or the rosemary. I grilled both. The garlic was perfect. The rosemary got a bit lost but I'm not sure that was a bad thing. It easily could have overpowered other flavors.
Grilled Halloumi with Grape Relish
1 medium red onion, cut into 3-4 slices
4 t olive oil
12 oz halloumi cheese, cut in 3/8" thick slabs
2 T olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
1 small loaf ciabatti or foccacia, sliced
1/2 c walnuts
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 large bunch seedless red or black grapes
2 T balsamic vinegar - I omitted this
This is one of those recipes where it's imperative to have everything ready to go before you start cooking anything. Heat your grill. Put the walnuts in a foil "basket." Put the sliced onions, garlic, walnuts, rosemary and bunch of grapes in a grill basket.
Drizzle the onions and garlic with olive oil. Cook them on the grill over direct heat. Watch them carefully because the walnuts will get toasty pretty quickly. Ditto the rosemary. Turn the onions, garlic and grapes once. Pull the basket off the heat when the grapes are cooked to bursting. Take everything out of the grill basket and put the halloumi in it if it's cracking like mine did.
If it's in nice slabs, you can put it directly on the grill grates. Smash the garlic and mix it with 2T of olive oil. Brush the bread slices with the olive oil. Schmear on the leftover garlic pieces.
Now, it's time to grill the cheese and bread. Put the bread on a couple of minutes after the cheese because it will take a lot less time to grill. You want the cheese to be bubbly with lovely grill marks. Because mine was cracking, I have lovely grill basket bubbles :-) While the cheese is grilling, take all the grapes off and put them in a bowl.
Reach in and smoosh them with your hands.
Chop the walnuts and rosemary and add them to the grapes.
Then, chop the onions and add them.
Remove the cheese and bread from the grill. Now, the cheese and bread go on a platter and the grape relish (more a salsa in my opinion!) goes in a bowl.
I found that drizzling the bread with a bit of the juice in the relish before putting on a piece of cheese was a great idea.
Adapted from Fine Cooking