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Grilled Halloumi and Little Gem Salad with Preserved-Lemon Dressing

Halloumi is a firm cheese that originated in Cypress but is increasingly made domestically. Its claim to fame is that it holds its shape when grilled or fried. Preserved lemon, more intense in flavor than fresh lemon, is available in specialty food shops or can be made at home (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. halloumi cheese, cut into slices
  • 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbs. oregano leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1 preserved lemon, cut into slices
  • 2 or 3 heads Little Gem lettuce, or 2 romaine hearts, halved lengthwise

Directions:

Arrange the cheese slices in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with 1 1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 1/4 tsp. of the salt, 3/4 tsp. of the pepper and 1 1/2 Tbs. of the oregano. Let marinate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 3 1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil, the vinegar, the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. pepper and 1 1/2 Tbs. oregano. Whisk well to make a vinaigrette. Reserve a few of the preserved lemon slices and finely chop the remaining slices. Add the chopped lemons to the vinaigrette, stir well and set aside.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.

Remove the cheese slices from the marinade, place them on the grill rack, and cook until the edges soften, the interior is warm and grill marks appear underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn the slices over and grill until lightly golden on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Brush the lettuce halves with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and place, cut sides down, on the grill rack. Cook until grill marks appear underneath, about 2 minutes, then transfer the lettuce to a serving platter. Top with the warm cheese and drizzle the lettuce and cheese with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the reserved lemon slices and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2012).