Summer Grilling - Grilled Halloumi with herb/avocado spread and pineapple
Depending upon cultures, its interesting to see how people react to the advent of summer. In India, It was to confine yourself indoors for the fear of getting a dark tan, stepping out with an umbrella to shield oneself from the intense sun and a host of 'cooling' foods such as Yogurt rice, and chilled fruits. The very idea of grilling anything out in the blazing sun would send a shudder down the spine. Grilling over coals was confined to cooler months and the rainy season when vendors would stroll the streets with carts full of corn to be roasted in a 'Sigri' (a Coal oven made of sheet metal).
In sharp contrast, With the advent of Memorial Day in the US of A, there's a scramble to get the grills and barbecues readied for cooking foods the way our cave men ancestors used to. Meat, Meat & more Meat, with a tiny footnote for grilling veggie burgers and marinaded vegetables.
Well, if you can't beat 'em, Join 'em!
While that rallying cry is theoretically motivating, the practical limitations of not having an open outdoor set up manifest themselves once the Cast iron grilling pan is set on the biggest burner of the stove. (well , my kitchen isn't exactly a designer one, more like the basic contractor set up), the hazy diffusion of smoke that filters out of the vent tends to make me reluctant to take to this method of cookin, but when I do grill, I tend to fully go all out. Lunch, a couple of weeks ago was a feast of grilled Quinoa & refried bean burgers redolent with a meaty aroma, with a creamy mint & roasted Jalapeno spread made with avocadoes. For an added shot of flavor, I layered it with slices of grilled Halloumi cheese.
But it was the leftovers that completely bowled me. Sounds rather corny to scarf down on appetizers after a hearty dish of the burger washed down with a Ginger Pineapple Mojito, but that is exactly what I did, (nudged ever so gently by the fact that I froze the extra burgers for the family and had some extra grilled Halloumi that I didn't want to toss out.)
OXO had sent me a set of fruit tools to test and I'm having a blast using them. Along with the fabulous ratchet pineapple slicer that effortlessly cores and slices the fruit without a single cut to the tough outer peel, was a pair of fruit scoops that are meant to scoop out flesh from large fruits such as melons & smaller ones like Kiwi. Even before the scoop came face to face with a kiwifruit, it was the perfect implement to effortlessly scoop out avocadoes for the piquant, almost mayonnaise like herb and avocado spread that is the recipe du jour.
Grilled Halloumi with herby avocado spread and pineapple:
1 1/2 lb block of Halloumi cheese, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil (ideally, mint infused)
tiny diced pieces of pineapple and slivers of tomato.
Smoked Ancho chile powder for dusting
(for the spread)
1 ripe avocado
1 bunch Cilantro (Leaves and tender stems)
1 packed cup mint leaves
1 roasted jalapenos, deseeded)
1/2 cup sour cream or Labneh (kefir cheese)
juice of 1 lime
1.5 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt to taste
Combine the Cilantro, garlic and mint in food processor and pulse about 6-8 times, until the leaves are coarsely minced. Add the Jalapeno, avocado, lime juice, honey, sour cream (in a pinch, use some plain greek yogurt).
Blend together and combine into a smooth spread with the consistency of mayonnaise
Cut the Halloumi cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices and drizzle liberally with the Olive oil. Heat a grill pan until smoking and gently place the cheese on the surface. Allow to grill until the char marks form (about 3 minutes) and then flip over carefully to grill the other side. Cut into small squares. Arrange on a platter, spoon a 1/4 teaspoon of the Avocado spread onto the cheese. Top off with a sliver of pineapple and tomato and a sprinkling of ancho chile powder.