3.31.2011

Hello to halloumi


Do you know what halloumi is? If not, you are seriously missing out on this delectably delicious and ‘moorish’ treat. Halloumi is often referred to as the ‘vegetarian’s bacon’ (but it doesn’t taste like bacon!). It is a hard cheese traditionally made with goat's and sheep’s milk, but also often with cow’s milk. Its origins are Cypriot, Greek and Turkish and while I’ve combined it mostly with Middle Eastern flavours, here in Australia it is used in a variety of dishes.
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An uncomplicated way to eat halloumi is to grill or pan-fry it and serve it with fresh vegetables. I used ingredients like pumpkin, patty pan squash, red capsicum and red onion and dressed them in olive oil. Once they were cooked I added some fresh heirloom tomatoes to add colour and acidity.  I pan-fried halloumi separately and then added dried chili, a splash of balsamic vinegar and some agave syrup (you can also use honey). I added fresh herbs like thyme and basil and a squirt of lemon was the perfect finishing touch. Try it out and let me know how it goes! PS: you can find halloumi in most stores that stock Greek or Middle-Eastern foods.
Sidenote: seeing as I’m a big believer in food and education and a huge supporter of resources that help nourish our awareness of food and its natural origins, I wanted to give a shout-out to a new Wiki project called MyCityCuisine. I encourage foodies/food bloggers like yourself – who have a great deal of food knowledge and skills – to continue to share with projects like this.  

vegetable halloumi bake
serves 2/4 side serves

1/4  pumpkin (I used kent but you could use butternut squash as well), sliced
1/2 red capsicum, cut into pieces
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 patty pan squash, quartered
3-4 cloves garlic - crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp dried sage
sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
500g heirloom tomatoes, halved
180g halloumi, sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dark agave syrup *
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Place squash, capsicum, onion, squash, garlic and thyme in rectangular baking dish. Dress with oil, sea salt, pepper and sage and bake 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin is just tender. Add tomatoes and a bit more olive oil. Bake another 10 minutes or until tomatoes are just blistered.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

In the meantime, place a pan onto medium heat (don’t add oil), add sliced halloumi (make sure not to overcrowd pan so it doesn’t steam) and cook on one side 1-2 minutes until coloured well. Turn halloumi and cook other side. Take off heat, dress halloumi with balsamic vinegar, syrup and dried chili and then add to the baking dish to finish in oven for another 5 minutes. Take out and enjoy!

*agave syrup or agave nectar is a sweetener that dissolves easily and is sweeter than sugar so make sure to use less.  Use honey if you can’t find this product at health food stores.





11 comments:

  1. yum i loooove halloumi! love all the colours of the tomatoes and pumpkin!

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  3. Absolutely gorgeous photos! You've chosen a lovely palette. I'm loving the sound of this dish too; the balance of acidity against the squash and cheese is perfect.

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  4. Thanks for the lovely words - always appreciated!

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  5. I love halloumi but I've never had it in a bake like this before, what a beautiful dish.

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  6. Halloumi is my heroin! I am supposed to be going vegan & gluten free for a month to lose weight but I still have one pack of Halloumi left in the fridge. This bright & beautiful bake is difficult to resist!!

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  7. Halloumi! I haven't had it in YEARS and now you realise how much I miss it. Discovered it in Cyprus and wish we could find it easily here. I've just had it grilled with oil but you have made it totally come alive with the pumpkin and all the other veg. What a dish!

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  8. Halloumi is new to me, sounds wonderful. This is a gorgeous dish and I love the agave used here.

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  9. Thanks for the wonderful comments friends. I hope you add halloumi to your list of favourites!

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  10. Yum! Halloumi is delicious and what a healthy and fresh way of preparing it! The other day I bought a big kilo tub in Woolies, so can't wait to try your recipe!

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  11. Yum Yum! the colours in this dish are beautiful and perfect for autumn weather!! delicious!!

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