Chimichurri Chicken Salad with Halloumi & Watermelon
After just one bite, you won't be able to live without this easy summer salad.
If you love the whole watermelon-feta salad thing but have tired of it, this is the answer. Thinly sliced chicken breasts marinated in chimichurri, a Latin-American condiment made of fresh herbs, are grilled alongside slices of halloumi, a semi-hard, brined grilling cheese made from a mixture of milks that fries and grills like a dream thanks to its high melting point it. Mixed greens are tossed with the chicken and halloumi that are cut into bite-sized pieces and tossed with chunks of watermelon and mixed greens along with some more chimicchuri, which is used as the dressing. The result is a vibrant and flavor-packed salad with puckery, juicy, and cheesy notes.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; wet and dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowls; whisk; grill or grill pan; tongs
2 shallots, minced
2 Serrano chiles, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ cup mint chiffonade
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
5-ounce container of mixed greens
4 cups cubed watermelon
1 pound halloumi or grilling cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1. First make the chimichurri. In a mixing bowl, combine the shallot, Serrano, garlic, red wine vinegar, and kosher salt. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes and then stir in the oregano, mint, parsley, and cilantro. Whisk in the olive oil. Remove 1 cup of the chimichurri to reserve as the marinade for the chicken, and save the remaining chimichurri to use as the salad dressing (stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator).
2. Slice each chicken breast in thirds from the thick top to the thin tip so that you have three thinner slices per breast. Place the slices in a large mixing bowl and pour 1 cup of the chimichurri over the chicken, tossing well to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
3. When you are ready to grill the chicken and halloumi, preheat the grill or grill pan to 400F.
ILOC tip: don’t forget to wash your hands and your work surfaces before you begin the salad preparation to avoid any possibility of cross-contamination.
4. Slice the halloumi, if necessary, into ½-inch thick slices.
5. Sprinkle the marinated chicken slices with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Place the chicken breasts and cheese slices on the pre-heated grill and cook for approximately three minutes per side, turning only once. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
7. Once the chicken and cheese are cool enough to handle, cut them into ½-inch, bite-size pieces.
8. Assemble the salad by adding the mixed greens to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with some of the reserved chimichurri and toss well to coat. Gently stir in the chicken, halloumi, and watermelon.
ILOC tip: add ¼ cup of chimichurri at a time to the greens. You want just enough to coat lightly each component of the salad. Think of any dressing as wet seasoning for your greens. Every item should be evenly and lightly coated.
9. To serve, divide the salad among four plates or shallow bowls.
Makes 4 servings.