Halloumi (or haloumi), is often associated with the Greek island of Cyprus, and is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk and sometimes cow’s milk. Halloumi cheese, often referred to as a “grilling or frying cheese” due to its high melting point allowing it to be easily fried or grilled. Because Halloumi is also free of rennet, it’s often considered “safe” for vegetarians.
Halloumi is a white cheese with distinct layered textures, very similar to mozzarella with a pleasant salty flavor like a feta, which has grown increasingly popular in recent years. This popular cheese is not a cheese to be eaten plain, it should be warmed, (grilled or fried) to mellow the saltiness factor, creating a crispy outside and delicious creamy melted inside.
Halloumi’s resistance to melting is one of its most distinct qualities of this distinctive cheese, it’s also what makes this cheese so versatile. The reason for Halloumi’s high melting point is because it comes from fresh curd that has been heated before being shaped and placed in brine. Availability-wise, Halloumi is now somewhat easy to locate. Although you may not find it in your local grocery story, stores such as Whole Foods and even trader Joe’s typically carry it without too expensive of a price tag.
Although Halloumi is tasty enough to be eaten hot off the grilled, in this recipe I pared perfectly grilled Halloumi with a simple quinoa salad which works perfectly as an appetizer or a side dish almost any meat or fish dish.
Seared Halloumi With Grains
- 1 cup cooked quinoa or other favorite grain of your choice
- 2 plum tomatoes, deseeded, small dice
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup capers, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) package Halloumi cheese
- caper berries, for garnish
- Step 1 Place the cooled grains into a medium size mixing bowl and set aside. Add the tomato, scallions and parsley and set aside.
- Step 2 Slice the Halloumi cheese into 8 slices, pat dry with a paper towel.
- Step 3 Place ideally a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the Halloumi in one layer and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes. using a spatula, carefully flip the Halloumi and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Step 4 To the grains add the capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Step 5 To serve, place the grain salad on a platter or individual plates, top with the seared halloumi and garnish with caper berries. This salad can be served warm or at room temperature.