Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Magic Cheeses and Vanishing Summers

I don't know that I've ever had a summer fly by quite as quickly as this one.

It feels like in the past, at least in the years that I've been a stay-at-home parent, the season has slowly meandered around us, enveloping the kids and I in it's warm summer magic.  Leisurely mornings, fun adventures, afternoons spent with the heat of the sun on our skin offset by cool water of the pool followed by lunches inhaled by wet-haired, freckle-skinned children.

Not this summer.

Don't get me wrong, it's been a great summer full of travel adventures.
As a family we've loaded up my car and driven through five states.  We've visited aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, first cousins once removed, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, and all manner of family pets.

What we haven't done is just take a deep breath and be.
We have a few weeks until the kids and I go back to school and I'm in need of some time just being in the moment with them.  My skin needs some (heavily sunscreen-protected) sunshine, my mind needs to dive into the pile of books I'd intended to finish over the break, my creative side needs to spend more time in the kitchen, and my kids need to spend some time adventuring close to home with their mom.

That's a lot of forced relaxation to fit into a few weeks, but I'm going to make sure it happens.
Summer has been slipping through my fingers this year and I'm ready to embrace it before it's over!

I started out this summer strong with the blog.  My semester ended and I dove right in to cooking and writing.  With all of our travels it's like the entire month of July somehow escaped me and now I have some catching up to do!  While most all of the cooking I did for family while traveling went unphotographed, I have been working on several fun recipe development projects for Allrecipes lately.  I've been playing around with a tasty breakfast product, experimenting with fennel, and learning how to cook halloumi.

I've wanted to work with halloumi for a long time.  I kept seeing recipes that called for this cool cheese that you can grill without having it melt but I couldn't seem to find it at my normal grocery stores.  The internet kept telling me that Trader Joes carries it yet after trying no less than four TJ's locations I couldn't find it.  After a few attempts I finally found it at another grocery store...and then it sat in my fridge for a while.
Thankfully the expiration date is surprisingly long on that stuff!

When the opportunity to develop a recipe for Allrecipes using halloumi presented itself I knew I had to go for it- if for no reason other than to get that chunk of cheese out of my cheese drawer and finally figure out how to cook with the stuff!

So first of all, halloumi is a weird cheese.
You can literally GRILL IT without it melting.
It's kind of both chewy and soft simultaneously.
It doesn't have a super strong flavor, but it's somewhat briny and salty.
Savory, but in a way that lends itself to lots of dishes and doesn't overwhelm your tastebuds.

I decided to put it in a salad.  The peaches and nectarines at the store were looking so beautiful and were just screaming to be sliced over some greens- I'm a sucker for a salad with fruit!.  I went with nectarines- because they are my favorite fruit of all time- but peaches would work equally well.  I added some toasted almonds, super thinly sliced red onion and red bell pepper, a simple vinaigrette, and, of course, that halloumi.
This is one of those dishes that even my husband who normally isn't all that fond of, what he calls, "frou frou foods" raved about.  Definitely a winner!

Now as far as the halloumi goes, I could have grilled it but I didn't want to have to fire up the grill just for some cheese.  I cooked it on the stovetop instead and, while I have included incredibly easy to follow directions in the recipe below, I'm going to share this link to Becca's directions for How to Cook Halloumi Perfectly on Amuse Your Bouche as they include pictures (and without them I wouldn't have known where to begin!).

The simple but flavorful ingredients in this salad really come together perfectly and we thoroughly enjoyed this salad- a tasty side for my husband and with the addition of that savory halloumi the perfect summer meal for me!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some stirring up of summer magic to attend to. :-)

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
4 C baby spinach
1 nectarine, pitted and sliced
1/4 C sliced almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 (8.8 oz) package halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2-inch strips

1. Whisk vinegar, olive oil, honey, mustard, salt, pepper, and basil together in a medium bowl. Set vinaigrette aside.
2. Toss 1/2 of the vinaigrette together with spinach, nectarine, almonds, red onion, and bell pepper in a large bowl.
3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add strips of halloumi and let cook until the undersides are golden brown and all liquid has been released and evaporates, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until other side is golden brown, about 1 minute more.
4. Plate servings of salad, top with warm halloumi slices, and serve with remaining vinaigrette.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts, we want to hear them!