Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Grilled Halloumi and Summer Squash Stacks

Verdant zucchinis, lanky crooknecks, squat little patty pans - with summer in full swing farmers markets are brimming with beautiful summer squash of all shapes and sizes.

My recent visit to Brooklyn's Borough Hall Greenmarket in New York sees me bagging home a firm and flawless yellow squash that is slightly weighty for its size. A trip to the deli in the U.A.E. also has me acquiring a coveted product I've always had a hanker for - a block of fresh Halloumi cheese. I figure it's time I act on that lust.

Both ingredients a rarity back home in Hong Kong, the summer squash and the Halloumi offer up a contrasting world of flavor and textures. The former delicate in flavor, creamy and tender in the flesh; the latter - an unripened brined cheese made of a mixture of sheep's, goat's, and sometimes cow's milk - is salty and dense, almost rubbery to the teeth, making it the perfect choice for grilling and frying.

Both ingredients are first-timers in my kitchen. Both are awesome on their own, requiring no more than minimal tempering to showcase their individual qualities. Less is definitely more when I decide to wed them together in this visually stunning, yet astoundingly simple dish that makes for an outstanding starter when entertaining.

I use my almighty Panini Grill that, with its simultaneous action on top and bottom, not only cooks everything to perfection within sheer minutes but also imprints those sexy grill marks. For some icing on the cake, I top the creation with tasty homemade Arugula Pesto. The recipe can be found here. 

To prepare...
Slice summer squash at a bias about 1/2 inch thick. Toss in olive oil and season with black pepper and thyme (I used fresh thyme from my garden). Omit salt bearing in mind that the Halloumi is already salted.
Slice Halloumi into 1/2 inch-thick slices.








 

When grill is hot, arrange the squash and Halloumi on the grill and press for 2 minutes or until lightly charred. If using a griddle pan or a sauteeing pan, flip the squash and Halloumi and grill/cook evenly on both sides.

Stack the Halloumi and summer squash and serve with a dollop of Arugula Pesto (optional). Garnish with fresh thyme. Enjoy!

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