Foodie Friday: Grilled Halloumi, Tomatoes, Ramps and Fiddlehead Ferns on Focaccia

I was looking for a something special to make for my husband’s birthday that was still vegetarian (after a weekend going to my high school reunion where we totally indulged in bacon, beef, etc. that they served), and I came up with this. Halloumi isn’t cheap, but you don’t need much to make an amazing meal, and for this I added seasonal ingredients (ramps and fiddleheads) that I love, but you can certainly modify it and use fresh arugula or other greens. Halloumi grills beautifully which makes it seem extra special!

Ingredients:

  • Halloumi cheese (about one half inch by four inch slice or equivalent per person)
  • Tomatoes
  • Ramps (about 8 per person)
  • Fiddlehead ferns (about ½ c. per person)
  • Focaccia bread (½ slice per person – in the photo I used too much bread, I think)
  • Mint for garnish
  • Basil for garnish
  • Balsamic vinegar for dressing

Instructions:

  1. Heat up grill to medium-low.
  2. Coat ramps in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Halve tomato, coat in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut halloumi into half inch slices. Coat halloumi in olive oil – do not add salt! Halloumi is a really salty cheese.
  5. Prep the fiddleheads by picking through, cutting off any ratty stem ends, and rinsing. Because fiddleheads are foraged, you often find grass and stones in them, and they need several good rinses to get out dirt and sand.
  6. Blanch the fiddleheads. Boil water and put them in for about 90 seconds (or until they start to turn a brighter green) then remove and put under cool water. You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate them. I think this is a necessary step for every single recipe involving fiddleheads (even just serving plain!) so sometimes I’ll do this straight home from the grocery store then keep them in the fridge, ready to heat or snack on.
  7. Get grilling! Ramps take the longest of all the ingredients, so I put them on first, then added the tomatoes, face down.
  8. Remove tomatoes – I didn’t grill these long but then kept in a warm oven because I basically wanted the grill taste, heat and look, but for them to still be firm and fresh.
  9. Put halloumi on the grill. Don’t move it around or else you won’t get nice grill marks and cheese will get everywhere. Let it be until you’re ready to flip. Three minutes a side.
  10. While food is grilling, heat butter in skillet and lightly warm/sauté the fiddleheads.
  11. Toast bread
  12. Take everything off the grill. Ramps should be tender and have gotten much smaller in size. Halloumi should have nice grill marks but still be firm inside, slightly melty on the outside.
  13. Put the tomato and halloumi on the toasted focaccia. By now there should be some nice tomato-y liquid in your tomato pan/plate – dump that on the bread, because it’s amazing.
  14. Garnish the dish with the ramps, fiddleheads, and fresh chopped mint and basil. Drizzle with balsamic.

The only thing I would’ve done differently is that I would have more heavily salted the tomatoes, and sliced the focaccia thinner than I did in the picture – a half-inch slice would’ve been plenty, and as photographed was a little bready!

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