What do you do when you discover a small patch of sandy beach on the shores of Lake Michigan that looks essentially untouched? You channel memories of your favorite beaches in the world and begin planning a picnic to recreate and celebrate those wonderful times!
Three of my favorite places in the entire world are Cyprus, Greece and Santorini. From the people, to the food, to the breathtaking sunsets, it just does not get any better.
While in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Cyprus. Cyprus is an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, and is known for its beaches, rugged interior and wine growing regions. Cyprus is also the country of origin for my all-time favorite cheese – halloumi. Halloumi is a firm, brined, slightly springy white cheese, traditionally made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk, although these days cow’s milk is also used. Its texture is similar to that of mozzarella or thick feta, except that it has a strong, salty flavor imbibed from the brine preserve. Cooking the Halloumi removes all of its saltiness and empowers it with a creamy texture. Since the cheese has a high melting point, it can be easily fried or grilled.
Halloumi is generally served during the warmer months with watermelon, due to its refreshing qualities. For my picnic purposes, I decided to grill off slices of halloumi, and stuff them in fresh pita with thick slices of tomato, cucumber and my homemade hummus.
While I didn’t get my recipe for hummus in Greece or Santorini, I feel like having tasted so many varieties of hummus throughout my travels I rarely use a recipe and instead taste, taste, taste along the way and add flavors as I see fit. If making your own hummus, try starting with The Chopping Block's recipe here, and tweek the flavors to your liking. For example, sometimes I like to add extra lemon because I love the tartness while other times I prefer adding roasted garlic to take the flavors even further. Make it your own!
Yield: 2 cups
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 clove garlic
One 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Smoky paprika, for garnish
- While the food processor is running, drop in the clove of garlic and process until minced.
- Add the chickpeas, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt and water as needed.
- Puree until silky and smooth.
- Garnish by making a well in the middle of the hummus and filling the indentation with olive oil. Sprinkle the top with smoky paprika and serve with pita chips.
To round out my picnic, I packed two bottles of my favorite summer wine – Le Grand Balloon Rose and two of our new nifty GoVino wine glasses branded with our logo. These things are great for picnics since they look like proper stemless wine glasses but are in fact plastic!
Stop in our stores to pick up your very own Chopping Block branded GoVino glasses for your next summer outing. Get inspired for picnic fare with dishes from our upcoming cooking classes that feature the best produce of the season like Farm to Table and The Italian Garden.