If you are a cheese lover and haven’t tried halloumi, then let me introduce you to your new obsession. Cheese lover, meet halloumi. Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese originating in Cyprus. Made from sheep’s milk, the cheese is popular in Greece, the Middle East, and increasingly, in America too. It’s also extremely popular in Israel, where you can find it on practically every cafe menu. The briny yet mild cheese is tasty, but its real magic lies in its high melting point: halloumi can be grilled or fried without falling apart or melting into a pile of hot (delicious) cheese. Instead, it takes on beautiful grill marks, a golden outside hue, and gets warm, and just gooey enough in the middle. A total win in my book.
Halloumi is delicious when served simply, so I like to use it as a substitute for feta cheese in Greek salad. Its saltiness is similar to feta, but it has a completely different texture. And when fried, it gets gooey and warm, making it a nice contrast in cool, summer salads. I strongly recommend you season the cheese before frying it, as it is slightly less salty than feta cheese.
For the dressing:
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
For the salad:
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
- 1 Persian cucumber, finely diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup olives, pitted
- 8 oz. halloumi cheese, cubed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp canola or olive oil (for frying the cheese)
- Make the dressing: Stir together all the ingredients except for the oil until well combined. Then whisk in the oil slowly to emulsify.
- In a large bowl, toss together the onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and olives. In a separate small bowl, toss the halloumi cubes with salt and pepper to season them.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the halloumi cubes over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden and slightly soft inside. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Toss the salad vegetables with the dressing, turning them over with your hands to make sure everything is lightly coated. Add the halloumi cubes to the salad and toss gently to combine.
- Divide the salad among 2 plates and serve immediately.