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Grilled tomato, halloumi + cucumber salad

Grilled tomato, halloumi + cucumber salad with tarragon

adapted from Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables [1] by Cheryl Sternman Rule

Roasting the tomatoes every so lightly on a smoky grill brings out rich, sweet flavors without turning the tomatoes to mush as a full-on oven treatment would do. The textures in this salad are amazing — crunchy cucumbers, chewy-melty halloumi, soft, seed-bursty tomatoes, draped in a dreamy blanket of tarragon and sherry. And if you’ve never tried halloumi — a grillable, salty-as-the-sea Greek cheese — this is a wonderful dish to try it out.

for the salad
1 medium cucumber (or 2 pickling cucumbers or 1 English cucumber)
1 heaping cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (about 16 two-bite-sized tomatoes, like the Black Cherry variety)
8 ounce block of halloumi, sliced thickly, lengthwise
2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted lightly
2 heaping tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground

for the dressing
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, minced and smashed with a bit of salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1. Preheat your grill to medium high and set up for direct grilling. Clean and oil the grill grate when hot.

2. Slice the cucumber(s) in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and then cut into 1/4″ half moons.

3. Lightly oil a vegetable pan for the grill, and arrange the halved tomatoes inside, skin side down.

4. Lay the halloumi slices directly on the grate, alongside the vegetable pan containing the tomatoes. The tomatoes will need only a few minutes (do not flip) – you want them to be lightly roasted and beginning to soften, but not shriveled or with deeply blackened skin. Remove the pan from the grill when the tomatoes are ready, and let cool.

5. Flip the halloumi slices when the undersides have browned, about 3-4 minutes (grill masters: halloumi will easily take on the cross-hatched grill marks that we love), and brown the second side. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool.

6. Whisk together the dressing ingredients until well blended.

7. Place the cucumber slices and tomato halves in a medium serving bowl. Drizzle with part of the dressing, and add the tarragon and fennel seeds. Season lightly with salt and pepper, to taste.

8. Tear or slice the halloumi into small, bite-sized chunks and add to the salad bowl. Pour in the remaining dressing and lightly toss the ingredients. Serve immediately, or allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to blend the flavors.

– A quick method for deseeding a cucumber: Remove the ends of the cucumber. Slice the cuke in half lengthwise (then, if the cucumber is long, slice in half across the center of each spear). Using a long paring knife, cut a “V” down into the center of the cucumber flesh, and lift out the seed cluster. In the photos above, you can see the “V” cuts in my cuke slices. This is much easier – and neater – than scraping seeds out with the tip of a spoon, seeds flying in every direction other than the one you want.

– Toast the fennel seeds briefly in a dry pan on the stove top, or, wrap them in a foil packet and toast them on the grill, shaking the foil packet every few seconds (don’t grill for more than a minute – they’ll burn very quickly). To release more of the toasty fennel flavor, lightly crush the cooled seeds with a mortar and pestle before adding to the salad.

Prep Time: 15 minutes       Cook time: 10 minutes       Yield: 4-6 generous servings

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