If ever there was an homage to everything summer– grilled dinners, fresh mint and zucchini from the garden, simple, unfussy recipes– this lovely appetizer would be it.
This savory Napoleon recipe was inspired by summertime Caprese salads using fresh basil from the garden and sweet Heirloom tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market. It’s a grilled version that combines some of my favorite ingredients– garden mint, salty Halloumi cheese, and globe-shaped summer squash.
What’s that? You’re not familiar with halloumi? Well, allow me to introduce you. It’s a salty sheep and goat’s milk cheese with a firm, slightly rubbery texture, originally from Cypress. I find it more pleasant than feta–with all due respect to the Greeks– as it’s less sharp and tangy. Halloumi’s claim to fame–and what makes it a perfect summer cheese– is that it holds its texture when grilled. In other words, it will soften and get grill marks like a slab of tofu, but won’t melt all over your grill. Like other salty white cheese, halloumi is divine when paired with watermelon and mint in a salad as well.
Now, back to our Napoleon. You can make this warm layered appetizer as I’ve written it, or you can improvise by adding additional layers of grilled tomato or eggplant. Use round, globe-shaped ones for visual appeal if they’re available. This will take your Napoleon into ratatouille territory, without all the fuss of sauteing. If you can’t find globe zucchini, then use the biggest, fattest zucchini you can find and cut it lengthwise into four thick slabs, then halve each large slab. Use two pieces each per later. To turn this appy into a meal, serve it atop a bed of well-seasoned quinoa and lightly steamed spinach.
Grilled Zucchini-Halloumi Napoleon
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 1 medium/large globe zucchini, sliced into 4-5 rounds of equal thickness
- 1 8oz block of halloumi cheese, sliced into 4 rectangular slabs of equal thickness
- 6-8 large fresh mint leaves (~1 TBSP chiffonaded)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar (preferably a thick, syrupy one)
- Heat grill to medium (a countertop panini grill will work fine, too)
- While grill is heating, chiffonade the mint leaves. (Stack them up, roll them into a log lengthwise, and slice into skinny strips horizontally.)
- Brush zucchini slices generously with olive oil on both sides. (You do not need to season with salt; the halloumi is salty enough to flavor the dish.)
- Grill zucchini on both sizes until its tender and brown grill marks have formed; just a few short minutes. Remove slices as they’re ready and set aside.
- While zucchini is grilling, brush halloumi slices with thin layer of olive oil to prevent sticking
- Place halloumi on the grill and cook until brown grill marks develop and cheese softens, just a few short minutes
- When both components are ready, assemble the napolean as follows: Zucchini later, halloumi layer, sprinkle of mint. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used up.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste. Cut into 4 sections and serve!