Lately we’ve been in mixed grill mode. We buy a variety of sausages, seafood, burgers and chicken. My husband spends most of Saturday afternoon at the grill with the proteins while I focus on the salads. The only time we really bump into each other is when I want to make ratalloumi.
Ratalloumi is a cross between a ratatouille and a caprese salad. I use halloumi cheese in place of mozzarella. It’s this wonderfully salty white cheese that, believe it or not, you can cook on the grill. Used to be you could only get it at middle eastern grocers, but nowadays I see it popping up in my local grocer’s cheese case.
1 package of Halloumi cheese
1 large eggplant
2 small or one large zucchini and or yellow squash
2 portabello mushrooms
2 red peppers
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
2 T capers
Start by putting the two red peppers on the grill whole, turning them until they are charred black on all sides. When they’re done, pop them in a plastic bag or a bowl covered in plastic wrap while you cook the other veggies.
Meanwhile, slice the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash, as well as the halloumi cheese into half-inch slices lengthwise. Pull the stems off the portobello mushrooms and take the black ribs out of the heads. Brush the veggies and the halloumi with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Put everything on the grill and turn them once or twice until they get nice grill marks on both sides and look cooked through.
(side note: If you like your eggplant firm and chewy, before you cook them you can liberally salt the slices and let them sit on a rack over paper towels to drain. The salt will take a lot of the water out of the eggplant which makes the grilled slices firmer. I like my eggplant on the mushy side so I don’t always do this step.)
Next peel the charred skin off the red peppers, remove the stem, rib and seeds.
At this point you can just arrange the veggies and cheese on a plate, sprinkle on the capers and a simple oil and vinegar or oil and lemon juice dressing and let people help themselves. Or you can make a salad out of this by cutting all the veggies into one inch dice and the cheese into half-inch dice and toss it with dressing and the capers. Either way, salt and pepper to taste, but remember that the halloumi is very salty all by itself so you probably won’t need as much salt as usual. If you can’t find halloumi, feta is a good substitute. This dish is good hot, cold or room temperature.