Watermelon & Basil Tabbouleh with Grilled Halloumi
How does a grilled big hunk of cheese sound?! Drooling already? Halloumi has a high melting point, making it the perfect candidate for grilling, in fact, it’s not great raw at all. The result? A warm, salt piece of cheese, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Halloumi is deliciously served with something sweet, making this watermelon tabbouleh a winner!
Tabbouleh (Tabbouli), is a middle-eastern salad, traditionally with bulgar wheat and mint, our tabbouleh salad uses couscous, a quick homemade basil & sunflower seed pesto with sweet chunks of watermelon. This recipe should be one of your regular Summer meals, leaving you feeling refreshed, light and satisfied.
Check out the notes below to grill halloumi perfectly.
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Handful fresh basil (you can also use coriander, mint and parsley)
- ½ small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
- ½ small red chilli, chopped (optional)
- 45 ml (3 Tbsp) sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
- 750 ml (3 cups) cooked couscous (*see other options in notes below)
- ½ cucumber, diced
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 250 ml (1 cup) Food Lover’s Market seedless watermelon, chopped
- 180 g halloumi cheese, cut into thick slices
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Combine the lemon zest and juice with the fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil and chilli in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add 30 ml (2 Tbsp) of the toasted sunflower seeds and blend again.
- Combine the couscous, cucumber, red onion and watermelon and mix 2/3 of the basil sauce through the salad.
- Cut the Halloumi into thick slices, about 1-2cm thick.
- Heat a frying pan with a dash of olive oil over a medium to high heat and fry the halloumi in batches for about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.
- Season the halloumi with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Top the salad with the halloumi and the rest of the toasted sunflower seeds. Serve the salad with the remainder of the basil sauce.
What can I use instead of couscous?
Traditionally, tabbouleh is made using bulgar wheat. We used couscous in this recipe as it is more available in South Africa, but you can use bulgar wheat, quinoa or millet instead of couscous. As a low-carb option, you can use cauliflower rice as a substitute. Make your own cauli-rice using this recipe.
How do I toast Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds should be dry-roasted; when you roast them, some of their natural oils are released so they smell delicious and look shiny.
Heat a non-stick pan on the stove to medium heat, add sunflower seeds and toss every now and then until just toasted (about 5-10 minutes). You will see them start to brown and smell the aroma, take them off the heat once toasted as they can burn quickly.
Another option is to toast the sunflower seeds in the oven or air fryer. Line a tray or the air fryer with baking paper or tin foil; add a layer of sunflower seeds and toast at about 170℃ for about 7 – 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Toss them now and then so that they do not burn.
Store sunflower seeds in a sealed container (glass jar) for up to 4 months, or store in the freezer for future use (up to a year).
Halloumi Cooking Tips:
Grilling halloumi can be daunting for many, so here are some tips to ensure you get perfect Halloumi with that little ‘squeak’. (Halloumi lovers will know what this means). Halloumi has a higher melting point than you will find with most types of cheese, which makes it a great candidate for grilling.
- Ensure the pan, or grill is hot enough / reached high heat before adding the halloumi.
- Halloumi crisps up best when there’s a little fat in the pan (or on the grill), like a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
- Pair it with fruit. The soft, smoky, creamy sweetness of grilled halloumi is a natural fit for a bit of sweet fruit like watermelon or peaches.
- Halloumi cheese is best served immediately, crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. It is not the best for reheating or eaten cold. This means you should ensure to only cook the halloumi once all the other elements are ready to serve.