As a former vegan, I can relate to the idea of being the only herbivore at a carnivorous cookout, wondering what I would eat, feeling like I’d be stuck munching on carrot sticks and corn chips the entire night. Now that I eat—and enjoy—meat these days, I no longer fear the grill … though I do try to limit the amount of meat I consume, mostly for health reasons. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up grilling on the nights I want a lighter dinner. There are many veg-friendly grill options. Have you ever thought of grilling cheese?
Yes. That’s right. Cheese. You can grill cheese, and I don’t mean in a sandwich. (…though that’s actually a fun thing to do on a grill…)
Haloumi, a traditional Greek cheese, is a perfect candidate for vegetarian grilling. Salty, stout, and firm, this cheese crisps up nicely and resists the temptation to stick to hot surfaces—as long as you remember to brush olive oil over the said surface first. Haloumi cooks quickly and smells lovely as it warms, and topped with olive tapenade, this dish becomes a summertime Greek-food lover’s dream.
Because I love you, I’ve included my tried-and-true recipe for olive tapenade. Many traditional tapenade recipes call for sardines, but to keep this dish light—and veg!—I’ve traded out the fish for piquillo peppers, which add color and a touch of tart-sweetness to the earth-toned olives.
Grilled Haloumi Cheese with Olive Tapenade
2 pounds Haloumi cheese
1/4 cup pimenton dulce, or smoked paprika
1/2 cup olive tapenade (recipe below)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1. Slice across the face of the cheese, cutting the Haloumi into wide, flat slabs 1/2-inch thick. Lightly dust both sides of each slice with a few pinches of smoked paprika, rubbing the piquant spice into the surface of the cheese.
2. Preheat your grill and brush the grate with oil. Once the grill is hot, set each slice of cheese onto the grate. Allow each slice to grill for about one minute, or just until the edges begin to get melty. Gently flip the cheese over with the tongs, grilling the other side of the slices. Cook for one more minute, then remove the slices from the grill and set on a plate.
3. Top each slice with a small spoonful of tapenade and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately, while hot.
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Kalamata or Greek olives, pitted
4 teaspoons capers, drained
1 pickled piquillo pepper, seeds removed
2 packed tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff!)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add all ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until the tapenade is finely chopped. Pop open the lid of the processor and taste. Does it need more acid? Add another teaspoon of lemon juice. Does it need more heat? Layer in a few more turns of the pepper grinder. Does it need a bit more fresh “green” notes? Add another tablespoon of parsley leaves. Pulse again and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This post is part of the BlogHer Light & Fresh Summer Grilling series, which includes 100 percent editorial content presented by a participating sponsor. Our advertisers do not produce editorial content. This post is made possible by Michelob ULTRA Light Cider and BlogHer.