Bust out the charcoal, the tongs, and your sweet outdoor apron, because today we’re gettin’ our grill on, Wisconsin style. It’s Fourth of July week, and as a nation of free-thinkers, adventure-seekers, and big-idea believers, it’s only appropriate that we celebrate our independence by pushing the boundaries of BBQ. One bite of Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Fresh Cherry Salsa, and you’ll be singing the “The Star Spangled Banner.”
I’m teaming up with California Olive Ranch for a summer grilling extravaganza. We’re bringing you regional grilling recipes from across the USA, and I’m honored to be representing Wisconsin and the greater Midwest. Here in Dairyland, cheese reigns supreme, and I can imagine no tastier way to enjoy than hot off the grill, in its oozy, toasty glory.
Yes friends, we are literally grilling cheese. This is the guilty pleasure of eating the skillet-charred grilled cheese sandwich overflow directly off the griddle, without the fuss of bread interfering. You know you do it too.
Grilled Halloumi Cheese is pure picked-from-the-griddle cheese overflow, with fireworks. Halloumi, which originated in Cyprus, is the ideal cheese for grilling, because its firm texture and high melting point allows it to be cooked directly on the hot grill plates. If you haven’t tasted Halloumi previously, its flavor is similar to a mild feta and heaven.
Serve a plate of hot, toasty Grilled Halloumi Cheese at your Fourth of July BBQ, and you’ll be a grilling guru; serve it with Mediterranean-inspired Fresh Cherry Salsa, and you’ll be a legend. Wisconsin Door County cherries—which receive a cult following up north and are greeted with the fervor of preteens at a Justin Bieber concert—inspired my regional recipe (and are wonderful), but any sweet, juicy cherry you can find will be simply fabulous.
As a nod to Halloumi’s Cyprian origin, Fresh Cherry Salsa packs bright Mediterranean flair with basil, balsamic, and red onion. Sweet and savory, the Fresh Cherry Salsa also creates a delightful warm-cool temperature sensation when served atop the Grilled Halloumi Cheese. Smother generously. Any leftover fresh cherry salsa can be used in salads throughout week, though the chef personally recommends that you devour it immediately with a spoon.
The final key component of this recipe is California Olive Ranch Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. One of the best aspects of grilling is that you need few ingredients to create a flavor-rich dish. Take our Grilled Halloumi: With just cheese and olive oil, we’ve created paradise on a plate. Because California Olive Ranch’s extra-virgin olive oil is high quality, its flavor improves and complements the Grilled Halloumi.
- If you haven’t grilled with olive oil previously: A whole new door to delicious just opened. Olive oil pairs well with a wide range of grilled dishes, offers health benefits, and (particularly in the case of California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil) tastes lovely. Triple Bonus.
- If you are new to the grill: Fear not. All you need is a little attitude. Remind yourself that everything tastes better on the grill, and you will be far more successful than you have ever imagined.
- If you don’t have a grill: Get your fix indoors! A preheated skillet (preferably cast iron) will toast the Halloumi cheese nicely.
- If it’s raining the day of your grill-out: I once held an umbrella over my father in a torrential downpour while he finished flipping our burgers. Now that’s American perseverance.
HAPPY 4th of JULY!
Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Fresh Cherry Salsa
- 3/4 pound fresh sweet cherries such as Bing, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon, about ½ lemon
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 16 ounces Halloumi cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Baguette sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (optional for serving)
- Preheat grill to medium.
- Place cherries and red onion in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and honey, then sprinkle with salt. Toss gently, turning carefully coat. Sprinkle with basil and toss again. Place in the refrigerator while you grill the cheese.
- Slice Halloumi into 3 inch x 1 and ½ inches pieces that are ¼ inch thick (12 pieces total.) Spread Halloumi and baguette pieces on a plate and brush liberally with olive oil. Turn and brush the remaining sides.
- Place Halloumi on grill and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until the pieces have nice grill marks and are warmed through. Place bread on grill and cook until lightly toasted on each side. Transfer Halloumi to a plate and top with cherry salsa. Serve immediately with baguette slices.
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