When it comes to shopping at my local farmers' market in the summertime, I've learned my lesson the hard way that the cheaper option is not necessarily the best choice!
It's so tempting to shop around and buy from the vendor offering fruits or veggies for the lowest price, but time and time again, I end up disappointed and wishing I had splurged on a nicer product from one of the organic farmers.
That was the case a couple weeks ago when I was on the lookout for a cantaloupe to make this dish. I saw a huge bin of cantaloupes for only $2 so I happily scooped one up, thinking I had found a great deal. Of course, about five minutes later I came across an organic stall selling local Ontario cantaloupes that looked much nicer and were only slightly more expensive.
My non-local cantaloupe turned out to be a bad one (not surprising) and ended up going to waste, but luckily I was able to get a beautiful local one a few days later so that I could make this recipe!
I've seen lots of recipes on the web this summer for watermelon and halloumi salads. Watermelon pairs really well with salty cheeses like feta or halloumi, so I wanted to try a similar combination using another type of melon - cantaloupe.
I kept this dish pretty basic, layering slices of ripe cantaloupe with pieces of sauteed halloumi (or grilled if you like!) and fresh basil. I also made a simple basil dressing to pour over everything to add even more flavour.
This was such a fresh and summery meal! Since the cheese is pretty rich, the melon really balanced it out, complementing the saltiness with some sweetness. I loved the basil dressing, so if you're lucky enough to have an abundance of basil growing in your garden, this would be a great way to use some of it up!
Hope you all enjoy the weekend - it's looking to be a beautiful one here!
Cantaloupe, Halloumi & Basil Stacks
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tsp agave or honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (160g) package halloumi cheese (I used a mediterranean flavoured brand)
~Half a ripe cantaloupe
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Handful of fresh basil leaves
To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a blender or mini food processor and blend until it's as smooth as possible. Transfer to a small bowl.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Slice halloumi in half horizontally, then slice each half into three pieces. Brush one side of the tofu pieces with the basil dressing, then place face-down in the pan. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the other side (that’s facing up) with the dressing. Flip, then cook the other side another 2-3 minutes, until most of the sauce has cooked off and the cheese is browned on each side. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.
Slice cantaloupe however you like – you can either do long, curving slices or rectangular pieces to match the shape of the cheese. Arrange the cantaloupe and halloumi slices with some fresh basil on the plate, either layered in between each other or stacked on top of each other (like the two different presentations in the photos above). Drizzle with the remaining basil dressing.
Makes 2 servings (or more as a bite-sized appetizer).