With summer in full swing, we're grilling anything and everything that comes to mind, including seasonal vegetables, fruits, and yes, even cheese! Halloumi is one of the few cheeses that is actually sturdy enough to be grilled, and I like to take full advantage of that property.
You also don't need to an actual grill to enjoy a great "grilled" summer meal. For this finger-licking stacked veggie burger, all you need is a good grill pan, olive oil spray, and a hot stove.
Halloumi, a salty, dense Greek cheese, is uniquely chewy in texture and mild in flavor. Once grilled or fried, halloumi becomes slightly soft and is a great addition to any salad or sandwich, like this one.
Eggplant is another summer favorite. One of the easier, more delicious ways of preparing it is on the grill (or, in this case, grill pan). Requiring only a short cooking time and minimal clean up, slices of eggplant grill up really nicely. For a kick of flavor and color, I spread a homemade pesto bursting with Mediterranean flavors on each slice: fresh herbs, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and garlic.
Who said grilling — indoors or out — was only for meat? If you're looking for a light vegetarian grilled dinner option, you found it!
Grilled Eggplant Burgers with Halloumi Cheese
For the pesto:
1 cup cilantro leaves, tightly packed
1 cup parsley leaves, tightly packed
1/2 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, toasted
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
For the burgers:
Olive oil spray
1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
6 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced 1/2 inch thick
6 burger buns
In the bowl of your food processor, blend together the cilantro, parsley, mint leaves, pistachios, garlic cloves, shallot, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, white wine vinegar, chili flakes and salt and pepper until pesto comes together. Set aside the prepared pesto until you are ready to assemble the burgers.
Season the eggplant rounds with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Generously grease a grill pan with olive oil spray and heat over your largest flame. Once the grill pan is hot, add a layer of the seasoned eggplant slices and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until dark grill marks appear. Add more olive oil spray as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a serving plate.
Spray the pan with more olive oil and add the halloumi slices in a single layer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until grilled.
Once the eggplant and the halloumi slices are grilled, assemble the burgers. Generously spread the pesto on the inside of the buns and layer on the eggplant rounds and halloumi slices. (In the pictures above, I halved the halloumi slices into square pieces). Serve warm with your favorite toppings.
Any pesto would work well here.
You can find halloumi cheese at your local Middle Eastern, or gourmet shop.
Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant and halloumi on a gas or charcoal grill over high heat.
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