entertaining by 38

in the kitchen with: melina hammer

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I often take a few minutes to scan through flickr just to see what other people capture with their cameras. I ran across Melina Hammer’s flickr portfolio two years ago, and it’s one I always enjoy seeing updated in my contact list. What I really like about Melina’s work is her ability to move in between very strong visual compositions with primary ingredients, and prepared foods. When we invited her to participate in the column, she came right back with a choice of three recipes. We were very happy to see a creative recipe for Haloumi, Melon, and Avocado salad with lime-mint dressing that we are sure you will love to try out at your 4th of July barbecue! Haloumi isn’t available in Rome, that I’ve found, so if it is also unavailable where you are, you might try a cheese of similar consistency, which Melina describes below. Happy 4th– Shoot some Roman candles for me! I’ll miss the celebration! -Kristina

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About Melina: As a photographer, Melina has devoted her lens for over ten years to award-winning documentation of abandoned US historical structures. Although her forays into food photography are recent, her work already appeared in print and on the web for large and small clients. Her lens and composition capture the vibrant qualities inherent in fresh and natural foods. Her work can be found at online at Getty Images, Flickr, and her own website, Melina Photos.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Haloumi, Melon, and Avocado salad with lime-mint dressing

The recipe, for four:

One ripe cantaloupe

2 or more choice avocados, as you like

2 blocks of haloumi (mine were a little over 8 ounces each)

a small bunch of mint, enough for ¼ cup chopped

juice from 1 ½ limes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Set aside 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of 1 lime to dress the finished recipe.

Mix mint, 1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons olive oil, juice of ½ lime and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside for later.

Cut the cantaloupe in half and scoop out its seeds. Use a larger size melon ball tool to hollow out spheres from its flesh. Set aside any cantaloupe pieces that are too small for later use, muddled in summer drinks, or for making into popsicles. J

Repeat the process with the avocados, choosing a smaller tool size. It’s helpful to wait until near serving time with this step, as well as dress the avocado balls in the remaining portion of lime juice. This prevents them from oxidizing from pretty green to dull brown. Again, you can save the leftover avocado for guacamole or for omelettes, etc.

Slice the haloumi into ¼ inch or slightly thicker slices, and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet, heating over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to sizzle, turn down to medium, and add the slices. Be careful, as the moisture in the cheese will cause the olive oil to spatter. Allow the cheese to sear for a few minutes – you should hear a nice bubbling, frying sound. Check and turn over when the surface is a caramelized orange-brown. The second side takes only a couple minutes more, and then you’re done!

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Pour some of the dress over the finished layering of haloumi and scatter of cantaloupe and avocado. Leave some aside for guests to add more as they like. Enjoy this flavorful and celebratory dish! Healthy and supremely delicious, it’s a perfect summer creation.

Why Melina chose this recipe: Haloumi is a fantastic and firm cheese from Cyprus, made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, and is great for grilling and searing. Its plump texture and saltiness makes a quick friend with the juiciness of melon (or tomato, etc.) and the brightness of herbacious mint. Avocado, one of my favorite whole foods, does a great job balancing the sweet cantaloupe and the salty cheese.

I found some wonderful, locally made haloumi at the Union Square Green Market in New York City, and the lady who sold me my parcels made sure to make them pretty for photos! If you do not have a farmers’ market nearby, check the specialty department of your grocery store.

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38 Comments

Sara (Mrs. B.)

How about queso blanco? I think it would stand in deliciously. This would make it a lovely Miami style brunch dish.

kate

oh my! i cant wait to make this! I love haloumi and just got use to grilling it for a side. This is so creative and looks yummy! Thanks!

Hilary

Yum!
I’d love to try this over the weekend! Those photos really do the recipe justice.

Karen

This is so delicious, with the mixture and contrast of flavors. It’s also a beautiful summery presentation, looking more gourmet than than it takes to prepare. Last, but certainly not least, the photography here is tempting and alluring, to the eye and the appetite.

Karen

Delicious! Mixing/contrasting flavors. A summery presentation, looking gourmet but easy to make. The photos tempt and allure both the eye and the appetite.

Frank

The combination of flavors and textures show creativity and wisdom, as does the photography. The package is stunning for the eyes and the palate. Good going!

d'Auria

i’m going to try to make with with tofu and basil instead of haloumi and mint. i can’t wait!

melina

thanks, everybody for your lovely comments! i’m glad you find it creative and appealing. it was really fun to produce (and so delicious and satisfying).you do first taste a dish with your eyes…

each of your alternatives or additional ideas sound like they could work nicely – queso fresco/blanco is a great substitution for haloumi, and with the latino theme, you might even try cilantro instead of mint. if you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

and tofu – firm and with salt and pepper, grilled with olive oil – could be another fantastic take.

happy july 4th, everyone!

Sonnet

The initial pic is so mouthwatering i was inspired to read through the whole article…which continued to have crisp succulent pics throughout. I want to make this today when i visit with my mom. What a treat to see Melina is so beautiful as well.

Patricia Shea

YUM!! That looks delicious, I am fond of haloumi. At first I thought the little balls were chickpeas, which I love, but when I realized they were melon balls the recipe went to a whole new level of inspired…thanks for this visual and taste bud treat. Happy 4th!!

bettyfussell

Don’t see any Haloumi in Tepoztlan, but I’m in the land of avocados and melons. Not to mention queso blanco. Happy Fourth, beauteous Melina

angleofincidents

Mmmm… I need this with a pitcher of celantro/jalapeno margaritas on a day like today :D These shots are great to look at but this is even better to eat!

Kyla

I just made this salad for my family of hamburger and hot dog eaters and they LOVED it! Thank you so much for a great 4th!

Katie

As ever, FAB-ulous photos Melina! That dish looks so incredibly summery and light. I’ve never actually eaten haloumi, but these pics definitely make me want to try it. Happy 4th of July too!

Gregory porter

mmmm looks great. I expect to taste this more than soon. peace my friend

Dayna

So lovely (as always) Melina!
It’s wonderful to see you showcased here, you deserve it…And that salad? Spectacular!

melina

thanks so much for your warm enthusiasm!! and your sweet comments about my portrait image — i try. :)

great that your not-necessarily- adventurous family loved this recipe. how super!

i hope you make this recipe with everyone and anyone you love — you’ll all sit around with pleasant surprise at how fun and delicious each bite is.

there’s absolutely perfect weather over here. i hope you have the same, and get to bask in the sweetness it offers. thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Helen - Tartelette

So happy to see your gorgeous photography here Melina!
You are always an inspiration as well as very generous of your discussion time on Flickr and always asking the right (and tough) questions and I love that about you!
Hope you had a wonderful 4th!

janaita

I can’t wait to try this one out. Looks delicious!
The queso blanco with cilantro idea sounds just like what is often served at the Canary islands: queso asado con mojo verde (grilled cheese with a tasty cilantro and garlic sauce).

kristen

groan – looks so yummy!!! your pictures are just so crunchy and bright and airy – i love them and so admire your talent and skill. keep the mouth-watering pictures and recipes coming!!! love you! k

Hammernet

Such a unique combination of colors, shapes, and textures. I love the idea of imagining the cold orange cataloupe & the room temp soft balls of avocado mixing with the cooked hot chesse in your mouth – what a delight of flavors and the idea to compose such a recipe was brilliant.

Your primary photo with the white platter spread is intriguing, reminds me of skiers (cantaloupe & avocado balls) doing the moguls (the haloumi) over snow back and forth descending down the mountain side — your perspective here looks tilted towards the viewer, almost as if one waited long enough at the edge of the wood dinning table the haloumi & varied balls of fruit & veggie would slide down the hatch together in one perfect combination…………..ahhhh greatness. Wonderful conception & execution Melina!

Mike W

wow, made this tonight and it turned out great. i used queso blanco as someone had suggested and subbed papaya for cantelope.

Thorsten

Great idea Melina. I like the top down setting for its compositional approach. As always well done.

Mari

Such a creative recipe and a beautiful pairing of pictures! I also really like the top down composition of the first photo. And I’m just as drawn to the second photo — it’s so delightful how it tells a story of the making of the dish all on its own!

merva

Melina!! As always, you leave me wanting more and anxious to feast my eyes, as well as taste buds on a perfectly beautiful combination of luscious ingredients served up as only you, Melina, can!! The photos, presentation and exciting ideas inspire me to enjoy preparing this perfect summertime salad–You are so “RIGHT ON THE MONEY” with all your creativity–Keep up the excellent work!

melina

thank you, thank you so much!

you all have me grinning from ear-to-ear right now with all your detailed, insightful, and incredibly sweet comments. thanks for the enthusiastic feedback!

Marco

While Haloumi might not be available in Rome, I managed to find it in Malta and prepared that lovely, refreshing salad for a bday dinner al fresco. The creativity and visual appeal of the dish got everyone to comment and generally (everyone except my mother-in-law) rave about the salad. What inspired me to try my hand at in the first place was Melina’s stunning photo. Will be making it again soon.

rick @ à la mode

congrats on the guest spot, melina! i’m a big follower of your photography on flickr. i’ve just recently tried haloumi for the first time. the spread looks so fresh and creative.. i’d love to try that at home.

BaltimoreDIY

I thought those were chickpeas and green peas in the photo and was shocked (and hungrily curious!) when I found out that the little balls were avocado and canteloupe! I’d each the recipe either way: drooool!

Hillary Davis Food Blog

I remember a dish like this years ago at the 3 star Lameloise in France…..tiny tiny balls of cooked carrots judiciously scattered around a plate…..lovely to see again. Thank you!!!!!

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