Grilling is our cooking method of choice for these early summer days, but it's not all about the meat. Actually, our summer diet has tilted vegetarian since we started making this Grilled Greek Salad. I dreamt up this colorful dish in the colder months, with longings of summer. This salad knocked our socks off and had my meat loving husband requesting more. We made Grilled Greek Salad through bitter March sleet, April winds, and May rains. And now finally, with seasonal vegetables and balmy temperatures, we can grill in the sunshine. Unlike some grilled salads, this isn't grilling for cuteness. Grilled Greek Salad is a hefty, hearty entree salad, that relies on the grill to give the peppers, onions, and tomatoes their luscious char, and to add caramel sweetness to tangy halloumi cheese. Topped with kalamata olives and a tart lemon-zest vinaigrette for contrast, this salad is dynamic. Halloumi, for those not familiar, is a hard salty sheep-milk cheese from Cyrpus, a great cooking cheese that keeps its shape and texture at high heats.
Yield: Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side
- 3 bell peppers (multiple colors), cut into strips
- 1 red onion, cut into strips
- 1 pint roma tomatos, halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1/2 pound halloumi cheese, cut into 6 slices
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/4 cup mint leaves (optional garnish)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon zest vinaigrette:
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons, excellent when grilled prior to juicing)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat your grill on high for 10-15 minutes. Clean the grates thoroughly and wipe with a lightly oiled rag just prior to grilling to reduce sticking.
- For the lemon zest vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside.
- For the marinade: Mix together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large zip-top bag or bowl.
- Add the cut vegetables (peppers, onion, and tomatoes) and mix briefly until coated with the marinade. Remove from marinade. Next, coat the halloumi with marinade (take care it breaks easily).
- Put the marinated peppers, onions and lemon on the hot grill, making sure to spread evenly to ensure none are overlapping.
- Grill on high, covered for 4 minutes, until dark grill marks start appearing. Turn the vegetables and cook for an additional 4 minutes until grill marks appears. Do not move while cooking for the best char.
- Remove the charred veggies and lemon from the grill and set aside.
- Clean your grill briefly and add the halloumi and tomatoes to the grill. Grill covered for 4 minutes per side for the halloumi and tomatoes. Depending the type of halloumi, this grill time may be quicker or slower, the cheese does not need to actually cook, you are just deciding visually when it has the depth of color that you want. Remove the halloumi and tomatoes from the grill when they are colored to your satisfaction. Set aside.
- To assemble the salad: In a large serving bowl, toss the lettuce, cucumber and olives with the lemon zest vinaigrette. Top the salad with the grilled peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, halloumi, and mint. Squeeze over additional juice from the charred lemons for flavor. Serve immediately. Does not keep well as a leftover.