Halloumi: The Cheese That Won’t Melt
I’m not big on two of the most popular dairy products: milk and ice cream. And no, it’s not a lactose intolerance issue. Oddly enough I do like cottage cheese, an occasional yogurt and sour cream/dips. But my biggest indulgence has always been cheese. I love it for a light snack or enhancement.
For a while I had virtually eliminated cow’s milk totally from my diet during which time I heavily explored other cheese alternatives and was able to obtain favorable substitutes.
It was also during this time that I branched out and tried other animal sources (sheep, goat) for milk and find them preferable in a lot of recipes. I watch a lot of cooking shows and attend a lot of demos, etc. and recently I tried a new cheese which I will be definitely adding to my favorites: HALLOUMI.
Halloumi is a semi-soft to hard, white cheese made either from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or combination of the two and has a slight saltiness to it from being brine-cured. It’s mainly prevalent in Greece and Middle Eastern cuisine.
What I found most interesting about this cheese was that due to its higher-than-average melting point it is great for frying and grilling. Halloumi browns nicely and completely without any oil.
In talking with the server, the addition of any cooking oil actually breaks down the cheese and causes it to separate a bit. I suppose if that’s what you wanted to do to infuse some flavor that you could try it out to see what happens. However, as an appetizer, I think it’s a definite winner.
Of course, I took to my favorite cooking websites and found many recipes to use but here are a couple of recipes that I think would be great to try during the summer months:
Marinated Halloumi Cheese Kabobs with Herbs
Halloumi, a cheese from Cyprus that’s made primarily from goat’s and sheep’s milk, is similar to fresh mozzarella. Serve this appetizer with oven-roasted potatoes and garlic with rosemary, if you like.
12 ounces (350 g) halloumi cheese, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 medium pepper (any color)
1 medium red onion
4 medium cap mushrooms
1 level teaspoon each of chopped fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, mint and parsley (or similar combination of whatever herbs are available)
1 fat clove garlic
1/4 cup (55 ml) extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lime
Freshly milled black pepper
You will also need two 12-inch (30 cm) flat metal skewers.
Begin by cutting pepper and onion into even-sized pieces about 1 inch (2.5 cm) square, to match the size of cubes of cheese. Then chop herbs and garlic quite finely and combine them with the oil, lime juice and some freshly milled pepper. Now place cheese, onion, pepper and mushrooms in a large, roomy, non-metallic bowl and pour marinade over them, mixing very thoroughly. Cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours, and try to give them a stir round every now and then.
When you’re ready to barbecue kabobs, try the two skewers and thread a mushroom on first (pushing it right down) followed by a piece of onion, a piece of pepper and a cube of cheese. Repeat this with more onion, pepper and cheese, finishing with a mushroom at the end. Place the kabobs over the hot coals, turning frequently till they are tinged brown at the edges, about 10 minutes. Brush on any leftover marinade juices as you turn them.
Per serving (about 11oz/311g-wt.): 730 calories (510 from fat), 57g total fat, 30g saturated fat, 42g protein, 14g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 115mg cholesterol, 890mg sodium
Grilled Halloumi Salad
Distinctive Halloumi cheese pairs with crisp red onions, tender zucchini, zesty lime juice and fruity olive oil in this grilled delight. Halloumi, a goat and sheep milk cheese, doesn’t melt so you can throw it right on the grill. Delicious as an appetizer, add some Kalamata olives and pita bread for a light summer entrée.
1 (6-ounce) package Halloumi cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, thickly sliced into rounds
2 zucchini, thickly sliced into rounds
Black pepper to taste
Slice Halloumi in half lengthwise then rub all over with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive oil on the onions and 1 tablespoon on the zucchini. Grill Halloumi, onions, and zucchini, turning frequently, until they begin to blacken, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
Transfer Halloumi to a cutting board and quarter each piece. Arrange Halloumi, onions, and zucchini on a large platter. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, then squeeze limes over the top and sprinkle with pepper. Serve warm.
Per serving (210g-wt.): 250 calories (180 from fat), 20g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 10g protein, 10g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 4g sugar), 20mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium