This week a friend of ours was nice enough to share the bounty of his vegetable box with us. For those of you not familiar with the concept of veggie boxes, in many places you can sign up to receive weekly boxes from a local farm of whatever fresh produce has been harvested as of late. It’s seasonal, it’s local, it’s typically organic, and the food tends to be spectacular! His delivery also came with a fun looking recipe for Roasted Vegetable salad with Halloumi. One problem, what the heck is Halloumi?
Turns out it’s a cheese and we all know how much I adore cheese so I was totally excited to try something new! I had to do a little research. Turns out Halloumi is a traditional Greek cheese from Cypress that is a hard cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. It’s billed as “the grilling cheese” because it has a high melting point. When cooked, the cheese softens and its salty flavor mellows. You can find Halloumi in most stores, certainly whole foods but do check in with your local international foods market as well.
So I took the opportunity to try out two different recipes, one that roasted the cheese in the oven for a salad and the other that pan-fried it as little appetizer bites. Both were delicious. In fact the salad was downright superb, largely I think due to freshness of the vegetables and the dash of amazing red wine vinegar I recently bought (not all vinegars are the same folks! It’s worth investing is some really good ones.) I found Halloumi cheese quite appealing right off the heat when it was soft and tender and it’s flavor was slightly salty but mellow and reminded me a bit of a feta and mozzarella love child. Delightful. However, within minutes as the cheese cools it hardens slightly, becoming chewier and less appealing texturally in my opinion, though depending on your tastes this may be moot. Pairing the cheese with the red wine vinegar in the salad and the lime juice in the appetizer was really successful as the acid helped balance the cheese. Overall, I really liked both these dishes and I would definitely try Halloumi again, though I might stand over the stove to eat it quickly while it’s nice and hot and soft!
Roasted Green Bean Salad with Halloumi Cheese
Adapted from Terra Firma Farm
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, washed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 red onion, sliced into 2 inch thin strips
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tomatoes, diced
1 c packed basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp of good red wine vinegar
1 container of Halloumi cheese (8-12oz)
Toss the green beans in 2 tbsp of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on baking sheet in one layer. Cook at 425º for 20 minutes, tossing every 5-8 minutes, until slightly browned. About half way through cooking the beans, add the onions and garlic to the same baking sheet and toss well to combine. Return to the oven to finish cooking.
Halloumi Appetizer Bites
Adapted from Nigella
3 tbsp garlic oil (store bought or make your own)
2 limes, juiced
1 handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 block of Halloumi cheese (8-12oz), sliced
In a shallow serving dish, whisk lime juice, garlic oil and parsley. Set aside.
Slice the Halloumi into 1/4 inch thick strips and then cut each in half again. You are looking for pieces that are two bits worth. Don’t worry if the cheese flakes and breaks into smaller pieces. Heat a nonstick pan to medium high heat and dry fry the slices to brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. As the slices are done, add them directly to the lime juice and oil mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately and hot!