Ever had halloumi cheese? You'd remember it if you had. Halloumi stands out from the crowded world of delicious cheeses for two reasons. First, it doesn't melt when you heat it. Second, it's absolutely amazing grilled or fried. This delectable and savory Cypriot cheese has a firm texture somewhere between mozzarella and tofu — and once you throw it on a grill, people will come from miles around to find out what that amazing smell is.
So I recommend eating halloumi whenever you can find it in the cheese aisle. Even better, the best way to eat it is as part of a salad. Pair it with sweet and nutty flavors, toss the salad lightly with oil and vinegar, and you've got a gourmet meal you'll want to eat every day.
Here's Jamie Oliver's recipe for a grilled halloumi, spinach and toasted seed salad. I particularly like the combination of peas, fennel and halloumi for a fascinating flavor combination.
A handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds
2 carrots, peeled
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and halved
2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2/3 cup of fresh peas, podded
8 ounces of halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and extra virgin olive oil
Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over high heat, moving them around the pan from time to time so they don't burn. This will only take a couple of minutes. Put them to one side.
Using a peeler, cut the carrots and the fennel bulb into thin ribbons. Place them in a bowl with the spinach and peas.
Place your halloumi in a really hot frying or griddle pan, and give the slices a minute or so on each side. The cheese will soften slightly as it cooks.
Dress your salad with a good squeeze of lemon juice, about twice as much olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat everything in the dressing. Have a taste and add some more seasoning or lemon juice if you like.
To serve, tear the pieces of halloumi over the salad and sprinkle it all with the toasted seeds.
If you can't find halloumi, stop crying and eat this amazing spinach and baby beet salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese. Or go tropical with a mango caprese.
image: Stuart Webster