A few years ago (which now seems like an eternity ago), my fiancé and I took an incredible trip to Greece. Aside from the gorgeous views, we, of course, ate some incredible food. While it sounds simple, my favorite dish was a watermelon and halloumi salad with fig reduction that we ate at a rooftop restaurant, Pelekanos, in Santorini (the view didn’t hurt either!).
Halloumi cheese is popular in Cyrus, Lebanaon, and the UK but underappreciated and underutilized in the United States, as far as I’m concerned. I rarely see it in stores or on menus. If you’re not familiar with it, halloumi is a semi-hard, un-ripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat, sheep, and cow’s milk. Halloumi cheese has a high melting point, meaning it doesn’t melt as easily as many other cheeses. So, while it may not be the best option for grilled cheese sandwiches when you do want that ooey gooey melty goodness, halloumi cheese can actually be grilled or seared, which is unique when it comes to cheese! It’s got a spongy texture which also makes it a good protein replacement (like paneer in Indian cuisine) for vegetarians.
My Grilled Greek Chicken with Halloumi and Watermelon Salad is a great way to try halloumi. It’s the perfect summer dish and will make a halloumi lover out of anyone. This dish also incorporates some of my favorite items that we sell at The Chopping Block: the Spiceologist Greek Freak is a Mediterranean spice blend with garlic, onion, citrus, and chili; the garlic grapeseed oil packs delicious flavor while also providing a high smoke point, perfect for grilling; and the Isola Cream of Balsamic is a delicious balsamic reduction that you’ll want to drizzle on everything (even ice cream!).
Grilled Greek Chicken with Watermelon and Halloumi Salad
1.5 pound boneless skinless chicken (I used breasts, but thighs work too!)
2 Tablespoons Spiceologist Greek Freak Spice Blend
4 Tablespoons Garlic Grapeseed Oil
1/4 -1/2 seedless watermelon, cut in 1 inch slices (you’ll need about 2 cups diced after it’s grilled)
1/2 cup red onion, small dice
1/2 cup seedless cucumber, small dice
8oz halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
6 mint leaves, chiffonade (stack, roll, and slice leaves)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Isola Cream of Balsamic
1. Season chicken pieces with 2 Tablespoons Garlic Grapeseed Oil and Greek Freak, let sit for 15 minutes, but up to 24 hours.
2. Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat.
3. Grill chicken until you’ve got beautiful grill marks and the internal temperature is 160 degrees (it will rest and reach 165). Mine took about 5 minutes per side.
4. Brush slices of watermelon and halloumi with garlic grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper
5. Grill watermelon and halloumi over direct heat until you have nice grill marks
6. Cut grilled watermelon off the rind and into 1/2-inch dice.
7. Cut grilled halloumi into 1/2- inch dice
8. In a medium bowl, mix grilled watermelon, grilled halloumi, red onion, cucumber, and mint (cherry tomatoes are great addition if you have some on hand, and I love to add some jalapeno for a kick!)
9. Season salad with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Plate your salad on top of your grilled chicken and drizzle with Cream of Balsamic.
Another reason to love this dish is that it can be made ahead of time and enjoyed warm or cold. I enjoy eating it while the chicken is still warm, for a nice contrast of temperature with the salad which, if eaten immediately, has both warm and cold contrasting elements with the cheese and watermelon being warm, and the cucumbers and onion being cold. It’s great for a picnic, a day at the beach, or on your back deck!
If you’ve decided that you need that Greek Freak, Garlic Grapeseed Oil, or Cream of Balsamic in your life like I do, be sure and check out our curbside pickup options for retail on our website on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Lincoln Square.
If you really want to up your grilling game, be sure and check out our Grilling Boot Camps coming up in August. We’ve got space left on August 22 and August 29, but seats are going fast. You’ll enjoy an incredible day on our patio at Lincoln Square with Executive Chef Lisa Counts and Chef Hans Mooser as they teach you everything you need to know to be a grilling master. You’ll enjoy delicious food and have a ton of wonderful memories!
If you’re not quite ready to get your hands dirty, but like the idea of sitting on our patio and being pampered, we also have a number of grilling demonstrations, where our chefs will cook for you! Check out Italian Surf and Turf, Friday 7/24, Grilling Fiesta Saturday 8/8, Date Night on the Patio, Friday 8/28.
For those of you not local to Chicago, we have another fun way for you to cook with us (and your friends!): virtual classes! We’ve got Family Night Cook Along classes on Monday 7/27 (Teriyaki Salmon), 8/10 (BLT Salmon Burgers), and 8/24 (Chicken Saltimbocca), Cocktail Class – Rum 101 on 7/25, and a Cook Along featuring Roasted Garlic and Herb Naan and Chutney on 7/31. We can’t wait to see you, in person or virtually, as soon as possible!