Halloumi, where have you been all of my life? After seeing this Cypriot cheese featured on several blogs recently, I finally decided to give it a try. Halloumi is a firm, salty cheese traditionally made from sheep and goats milk. When eaten cold, it’s rather plain with a rubbery texture but when grilled, this is when the magic happens. Unlike most cheese that will lose it’s shape when heated, Halloumi has a higher melting point, allowing it hold it’s shape when grilled. It becomes brown and crispy on the outside and soft, but still with texture, on the inside. No need to add oil to the skillet or breading on the cheese.
It is a salty cheese so a 1 ounce serving is all you need in most dishes. Pair it with juicy, sweet fruit to balance the saltiness or add it to salads. In this recipe, the Halloumi is layered on toasted sourdough with grilled zucchini, basil, and pickled jalapenos. Simple ingredients with just the right balance of flavors. Recipe is adapted from the August, 2021 edition of Bon Appetit.
Grilled Zucchini and Halloumi on Toasted Sourdough
3 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 thick slices about 3″ long (rectangular shaped)
1 (8 ounce) package Halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2″ thick slabs about 3″ long (about 8 slices)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos
1 tablespoon pickle juice, from jalapenos
1 teaspoon honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves
8 slices sourdough bread, cut in half
- Lay zucchini slices on a paper towel. Sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt. Allow them to sit for 10 minutes then lightly rinse under cold water and pat them dry. Don’t skip this step. It makes the zucchini firmer so it will brown when grilled.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium/high heat. Add zucchini slices. You may have to cook the zucchini in 2-3 batches. Cook until seared, turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes total. Remove from pan and place the zucchini on a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and zucchinis slices.
- While the zucchini is cooking, whisk the garlic, pickle juice and honey in a small bowl. Season with ground pepper. Pour this dressing over the cooked zucchini.
- Wipe out the pan and return to medium/high heat. Add the Halloumi, press down lightly. Cook until brown on one side. Flip and brown on other side until cheese starts to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
- While Halloumi is browning, toast sourdough bread in the toaster.
- To assemble the sandwich, lay 2-3 large basil leaves on the toast, 2 zucchini slices,1 slice of Halloumi, the pickled jalapenos, 2 more zucchini slices. Spoon a little of the dressing leftover from the zucchini and top with a few more basil leaves. Finish with the other slice of toast.
Note: If you would prefer a cheese that is lower in sodium, Paneer would be a good sub. For a non-dairy option, I would use extra firm tofu. Be sure your grill pan or skillet is hot before adding the Halloumi slices. You want the cheese to sear before it melts.
Adapted from August, 2021 Bon Appetit