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Grilled Portobello-Halloumi Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Posted Apr 29 2011 12:53pm
See the grilled cheese slices in the front. Yummy!
My husband and I visited our close friends Robin and Aubrey in London a few months ago. After quickly showering, and although incredibly jetlagged, we headed straight for an open air market to eat, drink, and shop. And boy did we shop! We bought all sorts of spices, cheeses, fresh breads, and baked goods while sampling some of the market’s famous mulled wine. One of the items we purchased was a block of halloumi cheese. Although I had heard of it, I had never eaten it. So when we got home, Aubrey quickly heated up a sauté pan and gave us a lesson in halloumi. Halloumi is a sheep’s milk cheese from Cyprus and tastes like a cross between mozzarella and feta. And, as Aubrey showed us, it tastes best when grilled since it develops a yummy crust on the outside but stays nice and melty on the inside.
I recently got a major halloumi craving. Now, halloumi cheese has a decent amount of fat- somewhere similar to mozzarella cheese, so in order to enjoy it healthfully, I decided to create a salad with it. The portobellos give this salad heft so that it can be enjoyed as a main course, and the veggies together balance out the fat of the cheese. I had some basil growing on my windowsill so decided to make a nice basil vinaigrette to add freshness and brightness to the whole salad. This is really great as lunch or dinner, especially now as the weather is getting warmer. You can also eat it in sandwich form between slices of multigrain bread.

Makes 4 meal-sized servings
Ingredients3 portobello caps, sliced1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved½ large red bell pepper, sliced¾ lb mesclun greens6 oz halloumi cheese, preferably low sodium, sliced into ½ inch thickness¾ cup fresh basil leaves, torn¼ cup balsamic vinegar¼ cup olive oilSalt/pepper to taste (*You shouldn’t need too much salt as the cheese itself is pretty salty)
To prepare the vinaigrette, place the basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of a small food processor. Turn the processor on low, and add the olive oil slowly through the chute. This will emulsify and thicken the vinaigrette. Set aside.In a sauté or grill pan, heat the Portobello slices about 5-6 min on each side. Remove from heat, sprinkle with pepper, and allow to cool. Meanwhile, in another sauté or grill pan, heat the halloumi cheese slices for about 2-3 min on each side until browned (the cheese will release water at first, but then absorb it, so don’t worry). Remove from heat and set aside. To prepare the salad, toss together the mesclun greens, tomatoes, and red peppers. Divide between 4 plates, and top with a few slices of Portobello and halloumi. Pour a little vinaigrette over the salad and enjoy.
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