Monday, August 6, 2007

Grilled Halloumi with Citrus, Fennel, & Parsley


Halloumi (pronounced hah-LOO-mee) is a sheep’s milk or sheep and goat’s milk cheese traditionally made in Cyprus and Turkey. Its production method is similar to that of mozzarella in that the curds are soaked in hot whey until they can be stretched and shaped. The trick is to know how long the curds should be heated. As there’s no aging involved, cooking time is imperative in determining the quality and flavor of the cheese.

Halloumi is semi-firm and squeakily evocative of styrofoam. But don’t let the texture put you off – halloumi’s salty savor makes it truly addictive. In Cyprus, the brine-soaked cheese is served sliced into pita bread or over melon. It’s frequently found in a salad made with tomatoes and radicchio, and it’s popular grated into ravioli and pastries. But best of all, halloumi can be grilled.

The beauty of grilled halloumi is that its outer shell goes beautifully golden – even crunchy – while the inside softens but never melts. Here I’ve paired the cheese with some of my favorite flavors from rugged Cyprus: the bright sweetness of orange and lemon, the hot twang of fresh chili, some earthy-sweet fennel seed, and lashings of thick fruity olive oil. The dish makes a great lunch and a wonderful addition to any mezethes table (mezethes being the plural of meze). Serve with wine, ouzo, or raki.


Serves 8 as meze

zest of 1 small orange
1 medium red chili, seeded and sliced thinly
1 tsp whole fennel seed, crushed in a mortar and pestle
a few pinches of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
16 oz halloumi cheese, drained and rinsed
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the grill or a heavy sauté pan on medium high heat

Slice the halloumi into ½ to 1/3 inch thick pieces. When the grill or pan is hot, place the slices onto the hot metal – you may wish to work in batches here. Once the cheese is golden brown (about 60 seconds), turn it and allow to brown on the second side. Remove to a platter.

Once all the cheese is golden, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with the orange zest, the red chili, the fennel seed, and the parsley. Shower over the lemon juice and serve warm with plenty of crusty bread for soaking up the sunny vinaigrette.

28 comments:

marisa said...

Oh how delicious! I love the orange!

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

Wow, that's cheeeeese???

At first glance I thought, yum a fish recipe! Then read careful... cheese?

Very nice :)

Barbara said...

One of my favourite food pairings isI grilled haloumi with figs.

Pille said...

Such a great and versatile cheese!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Marisa! Thanks so much! I like the orange too - especially against the ground fennel seed.

Hi farfallina! - Isn't it cool to be able to grill cheese by itself?!

Hi Barbara! That sounds fantastic. Our figs are almost, almost here, and I can't wait. Thanks for the tip!

Hi Pille! I'm glad you agree. Somehow its saltiness doesn't make it any less versatile for me either.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I absolutely LOVE Halloumi! It is one of my favorite cheeses! I love servingit fresh off the grill with a hearty squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil! But your dish sounds perfect - taken to the next level! Next time I get my hands on Halloumi watch out!

Joanne Rendell said...

yum, yum, and more yum. i've been eating camp food for too many days and this looks too good for words...

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Jenn! I might have known I'd find a fellow halloumi fan in you! I often do lemon, chili, and olive oil, but sometimes I like to spruce it up a bit! Did you see Barbara's comment above that she serves it with figs? Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Jo Jo! I'll bet camp food's pretty fantastic though. I wonder if you could toast halloumi on sticks over the campfire? Could be disastrous but could be delish....

Jen said...

The picture is stunning and the recipe looks wonderful!

Patricia Scarpin said...

We don't find halloumi here but we do have a type of cheese that is similar, called "queijo de coalho". It's also kept in brine and goes a bit squeaky on the teeth.

I'm gonna try this, Amanda!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Jen, thank you so much for your kind words! I'm so glad you like the photo, and I hope you enjoy the halloumi!

Patricia, I bet you could try the same thing with queijo de coalho. I've never had it, but it certainly sounds very similar, doesn't it? Let me know if you give it a try!

foodette said...

That looks amazing - I have such a love for good cheeses. I have never heard of this one before, though. Hopefully I will be able to find it at the grocery store next time I go.

winedeb said...

I have seen a few other foodie blogs using this cheese, and until then, I had never heard of it. So I went to the supermarket and, to my astonishment, there it was! So I picked up a package and the only thing I have done with it is throw it in a frying pan to see what happens. I expected it to melt and it did not. I think I overcooked it as it was dry, but still had a nice flavor to it. But now seeing that you grill it, I will have to try this one again. It has such a strange texture. Very interesting for a "cheese".

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Foodette! In the States, it usually comes vacuum packed in brine. You'll probably find it wherever the feta or fresh mozzarella is. Hope you find some!

Hi Winedeb! I highly doubt the dryness was your fault! The cheese is always pretty dry, which is why it benefits from lots of olive oil and lemon juice!

Jan said...

Amanda, I have never had halloumi! Is it something I can get at the supermarket?

Wendy said...

Just recently I've started to become interested in how different cheeses are made. It's something I've never really considered before! Thanks for this. Love how informative your posts are. And this sounds delicious!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Jan! Halloumi is actually pretty common these days. It's usually vacuum-packed in brine and you should check by the fresh mozzarella or feta cheese.

Hi Wendy! Thanks so much, and welcome back from your trip. Have you ever made mozzarella? It's actually really simple to do at home. You can buy the curds quite easily, and you place them in a sieve before plunging into hot water. Then you can mold into rounds, braid, etc before marinating or eating on the spot, frankly. I should post about it soon.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the introduction to this cheese, I had never heard of it before now.

Truffle said...

What a fabulous dish! Sounds like the perfect combination of fresh and rich flavours. Beautiful photography too!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Cynthia! You are most welcome! It certainly gives "grilled cheese" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

Hi Truffle! Thanks so much. I'm so glad you like it. I do love that mixture of fresh and rich in the same bite - you're absolutely right!

Garrett said...

I love using cheese with citrus! Yum!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hey Garrett - I do too actually. Especially with the young cheeses: feta, ricotta, mozzarella, etc. Thanks and feel better!

Kathryn Elliott said...

What a glorious recipe this is. Haloumi is one of my favourite foods and yet you find so few recipes that use it. I'm definitely going to have this some time over the next week.

Thank you, Kathryn

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Kathryn! Thanks so much, I'm so glad you like the recipe. I love halloumi too - I find it's a great foil for so many flavor combinations, and I love that it can stand up to a grill!

kathryn elliott said...

I made this for dinner last night, and boy is it good. In fact I may have it again for lunch today. Thank you!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Kathryn, thank you so much for letting me know! I'm always so happy when someone makes one of my recipes, and I'm so very glad you're enjoying it.

christine said...

Oh I love what you've done with the halloumi here. I've only made it with a couscous salad, but this sounds better!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Christine, Thanks so much! I've never had halloumi with couscous! That actually sounds like a nice pairing - the salty cheese against that gently sweet background. I shall give it a go!

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