Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Salad

I’m a Jersey girl –  born and raised in The Garden State.

As a child, I remember going to the Paterson Farmers’ Market with my mother and grandmother. Our end-of-the-summer visits meant that Mom and Nanny were on the hunt for ripe, ready to use Jersey tomatoes. Their sweet, juiciness couldn’t be beat.
Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Salad

Mom and Nan would scrutinize the vendors’ wares, making
their selection based on quality and price. The trunk of our car sagged with
bushels of tomatoes and red peppers – two important ingredients for Nanny’s
recipes. The red peppers were ear-marked for Nan’s
red pepper paste. The
tomatoes served numerous purposes – some for tomato paste, some for specific
recipes such as dolma, and the firm, ripe, sweet tomatoes were assigned to any dish
that Nan would conjure up.

Having lived in Florida for over 35 years, I can safely say I’m a Floridian (with Jersey overtones).
We Floridians don’t have to wait until summer’s end to
feast on delicious tomatoes, ours are in season when most of the country’s
landscape is still covered in snow.
Here’s a recipe that features red and yellow tomatoes (or
heirloom tomatoes when available) that would even have met Nanny’s approval!

Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Salad 
Yield: 4 servings  
Tomato Salad Ingredients:

6 medium red vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
6 medium yellow vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
NOTE: 1-
12 oz. pkg. of red grape or cherry tomatoes, and 1-12 oz. pkg. of yellow grape or cherry tomatoes may be
substituted. If using the smaller tomatoes, cut each in half.
2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Halloumi Ingredients:

8 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick (8 slices
Halloumi cheese, sold in most Middle Eastern and Whole Foods markets, is made
from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Since it’s not a melting cheese,
it holds up well on the grill. Be warned: Halloumi cheese is rather salty!
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. za’atar, or to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnish: Slivered basil leaves, or toasted pine nuts
or pistachio nuts,    optional

Directions for Tomato Salad:
1. Place all tomato wedges (or halves, if using smaller
tomatoes) in a mixing bowl. Add basil strips. 
2. Combine olive oil with lemon juice. Season with salt
and pepper; toss gently with tomatoes and basil.
3. Evenly divide tomato salad among 4 serving plates; set

Directions for Grilled Halloumi Cheese:
1. Pat cheese slices dry between sheets of paper towel.
2. Season both sides of cheese slices with za’atar and black
3. Heat oil in a large grill pan set over medium-high
heat. Cook cheese for 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. (NOTE: If you
don’t have a grill pan, a large non-stick skillet will do the trick. You just
won’t get grill marks.)
 4. Top each salad
with two slices of grilled cheese. Garnish with toasted pine nuts or pistachio
nuts if desired. Serve immediately.
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  1. Ara April 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    May I just say that I really really hate you right now? I love tomatoes and I won't find any in season in LA until July or August. Enjoy your !#!$@#! salad! LOL

    1. Robyn Kalajian April 12, 2015 at 1:35 am

      Now, now, Ara, I understand your frustration, but July is right around the corner!

  2. A bird in the hand April 12, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Authentic Halloomi cheese, made in Cyprus, is lightly salted. There is a brand we get here from Cyprus that's just right. I really like the combination you've created here and will try it. Many thanks.


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