Olive Oil and Pepper-Marinated Watermelon Bites with Halloumi Recipe

By Antoni Porowski - From his book Antoni in the Kitchen available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Serves: 6 - 8 

This dish is one of my go-tos for summer entertaining: bites of sweet watermelon marinated in good-quality olive oil and coarsely cracked peppercorns, topped with salty grilled halloumi cheese and fresh mint. Refreshing, beautiful, and super easy to prepare.

  • 2 (1-inch) cubes seedless watermelon (from a 4-pound melon)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper or mixed peppercorns
  • 1 (8- to 9-ounce) package halloumi cheese, drained and cut lengthwise into 4 slices 
  • A good-sized handful of fresh mint leaves, large leaves roughly torn
  • In a bowl, combine the watermelon, oil, and pepper. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. 
  • Pat the halloumi slices dry with paper towels. Heat a large dry nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the halloumi and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the cheese slices to a cutting board and cut each one into 8 pieces. 
  • Reserving the oil, use a slotted spoon to transfer the watermelon to a large serving platter. Set a piece of halloumi on each watermelon cube, then top with a mint leaf. Drizzle the bites with about 3 tablespoons of the reserved oil, spooning a healthy dose of the cracked peppercorns on top as you go. Serve immediately (it’s tastiest while the cheese is warm), inviting your guests to eat with their fingers.

TIP: Halloumi is a semi-hard brined cheese, traditionally from Cyprus, that holds up very well to heat (it is often grilled). Look for it in well-stocked supermarkets or at cheese shops. If you can’t find it, use squares of your favorite feta instead and don’t cook it. If the pieces of cheese aren’t perfectly cut, no stress—irregular-shaped chunks are totally fine.

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