Grilled Haloumi & Marinated Zucchini

We’ve been experimenting with Haloumi a bit lately. Haloumi is a semi firm cheese that hails form Cyprus.  Due to its high melting point you’ve most likely eaten it grilled or fried, a common and delicious way to prepare it. The cheese is mild and salty and does not give off the greasy, unpleasant by-product that many cheeses do when heated.

While Haloumi does make a mean grilled cheese sandwich, after a few rounds of crusty baguettes we wanted to pair it with something a little more healthy then your average loaf of bread. Trying to stay within the confines of Mediterranean flavors, raw zucchini marinated in a spicy, bright mix of lemon, cumin and mint seemed like the perfect match. While I was nervous about feeding a group of hungry meat eaters a raw dish, the long period of maceration tempered both the zucchini and my nerves. Many even assumed it had been sauteed and everyone happily devoured the dish.

We served it along side a crispy buttermilk chicken, but any flaky white fish would be the perfect accompaniment. Come summer and its copious farmers market zucchinis, this dish will be in full rotation.

Grilled Haloumi & Marinated Zucchini  (serves 6)

4 zucchini
1 large handful finely chopped mint
1/4 cup EVOO
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 8oz packages of haloumi cheese

Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the zucchini lengthwise as thinly as possible. In a large bowl combine zucchini, mint, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin and garlic. Mix thoroughly and until all zucchini is covered. Let the mixture macerate for two hours turning every 30 minutes to ensure that all zucchini is softened. When ready the zucchini should be soft and have released its water, creating a lovely vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste.

Slice each block of haloumi into 4-6 pieces, depending on the steadiness of your hands and the sharpness of your knife. Slightly brush each piece of haloumi with olive oil. In a hot griddle pan, grill each slice until softened and browned, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve immediately with the marinaded zucchini.