In a hot pan, halloumi develops a brown crust – “like toasted cheese without the bread.” (PHOTO BY Harris Graber)
When I was a kid, my dad would sometimes sprinkle salt on his watermelon, especially if it wasn’t the best of the season. Feta and watermelon salad is an elaboration of the same sweet-salty pairing, which has become not quite so obscure.
You can take it a step further, I submit, by using halloumi instead, in a controlled setting where you can get the plate to the eaters while the cheese is still warm and the melon remains cool.
Yes, halloumi is expensive, with prices nearing $20 a pound at Wegmans, Premier Gourmet or the Lexington Co-op. But this salad will make it an investment that delivers returns.
Click over to the video section of BuffaloNews.com for my latest Elements video, where I make this recipe:
Recipe: Halloumi watermelon salad with caramelized pineapple
About 6 cups watermelon pieces
1 10-ounce brick halloumi cheese
4 cups fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sherry, cider or rice vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh mint, shredded
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Whisk together vinegar, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce or soy sauce and mint. Cut up the best watermelon you have and refrigerate.
In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. When it stops foaming, add pineapple pieces in a single layer. (You may have to use the other tablespoon of butter and two batches.) After the fruit against the pan browns, about 3 minutes, turn it. After another side browns, remove the pineapple to a large mixing bowl. Add the chilled watermelon.
Slice halloumi a quarter-inch thick and brown in a hot, dry pan, turning slices once. Immediately add to mixing bowl, add watermelon and moisten with minty dressing. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro, as desired.
If you’re swift enough, the cold, sweet watermelon and the warm, salty cheese make delightful music together.