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
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!
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.