Picnic Perfect 5-Ingredient Grilled Salad

Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay

Celebrate grilling season, vegetarian-style, with this simple five-ingredient salad. Creamy halloumi, watermelon, and vine-ripened tomatoes are grilled until warm, then served with lemony olive oil and freshly chopped basil.

This recipe is perfect for picnics, barbecues, and really any outdoor outing. And it’s a welcomed twist on the traditional — no more boring grilled chicken breast! Go meatless and eat chic in less time than it takes to grill up a burger.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for making this unique, refreshing, and easy meal:

Grab your ingredients — watermelon, tomatoes, fresh basil, and about 8 ounces of halloumi.

If you’ve never had halloumi, it’s a total must-try. The hearty, salty cheese has the flavor of feta with a distinctive layered texture reminiscent of mozzarella. It stands up to the heat of the grill (it softens, but never actually melts), so you can toss it on hot grates without worrying about it melting through the cracks.

Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay

The other must-have ingredient for this salad is a flavored olive oil. Lemon-infused olive oil is typically available at mainstream grocers. But gourmet shops will turn up dozens of delicious flavors, like lime, basil, orange, and even jalapeño and habanero. Grab any flavor you please. I love the bright taste of lime with this dish and recommend it tremendously.

With all ingredients assembled, drizzle the watermelon, halloumi slices, and tomatoes with a good coat of olive oil. This will tease the grill flame to char each piece quickly, giving you brilliant and beautiful grill lines on your final salad.

Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay

And now, you’re ready to grill. It’s as easy as tossing everything onto the grate once you’ve preheated to the highest and hottest setting possible. Each ingredient has its own cooking time. Here are the specifics:

  • Start with the tomatoes, setting them around the edges of your hot grill. They take the most time to cook. The extra long cook time will cause them to burst, releasing tangy, acidic tomato juice into your salad. Once drizzled with oil, this tomato juice makes its own salad vinaigrette.
  • Conversely, cook the watermelon quickly, about a minute, on the center of the grill. Just long enough to caramelize the outer layer and create beautiful grill lines.
  • Halloumi is the last to be cooked. As with the watermelon, it needs just a minute or two on each side. You’ll know it’s ready to eat when it’s soft and golden brown.
Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay

Toss all of your grilled ingredients on a large serving platter. Then re-drizzle with flavored olive oil.

Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay

A quick sprinkling of basil, a smattering of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and it’s ready to serve.

Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay

The salty flavor of the halloumi with the warm, acidic tones of the tomato and sweet caramelized watermelon make the salad so good, you’ll never miss the meat!

Grilled Watermelon, Halloumi, and Tomato Salad

Makes: 4 servings

1/2 cup flavored olive oil (I used lemon)
1 8-ounce package halloumi, sliced to 1/2″ thick
8 (1/2″ thick) slices watermelon, cut into triangles
10-12 small tomatoes on the vine
2 tablespoons fresh basil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper (to taste)

1. Preheat grill to the highest setting.

2. Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over halloumi, watermelon, and tomatoes.

3. Place tomatoes around the edges of the hot grill and watermelon in the center of the grill, and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side — just long enough to create char lines on the fruit. Place watermelon on a large serving platter.

4. Grill halloumi in the center of the grill for 1-2 minutes on both sides, until char lines appear and cheese is soft and hot. Place on top of watermelon slices on the serving plate.

5. Once tomatoes are charred and begin to burst open, place them on the serving platter, as well. (The timing will depend on your grill, and should take approximately 5-10 minutes.) Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy immediately!

Grilled Salad
Image Source: Brooke McLay


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