A NEW GRILLED CHEESE

By Tina Ujlaki Posted August 24, 2007

Have you ever tried halloumi? It's a brined cheese from Cyprus that's traditionally produced with sheep's milk or goat's milk in a method that's similar to mozzarella-making. The cheese is usually sold packaged in a block, like feta or tofu. Its flavor is reminiscent of tangy ricotta salata and feta, and the texture has that addictive squeaky-dry quality of cheese curds. (I guess you'd have to understand cheese curds to know what I mean.)  The most amazing thing about halloumi, however, is that you can cut it into slices or slabs and grill it. It holds its shape perfectly, but more importantly, it gets beautifully browned and crisp on the surface and becomes a simple and fabulously delicious savory thing to eat. All grilled halloumi reallly needs in the way of accompaniment is a squirt of lemon juice or a slice of ripe tomato, but there are so many other ways to use it. Cut into squares, it makes a perfect hors d'oeuvre topped with pesto, a mint leaf, a grilled or poached shrimp or a green olive. It's not the first cheese I would put in a sandwich, but I would add cubes to almost any salad, especially ones made with tomatoes,  cucumbers, celery, crisp romaine, bitter/pungent greens like radicchio, arugula and watercress, and chickpeas or beans. The other night, I grilled slices in my panini press along with slices of eggplant, then served them for dinner with a tomato, parsley, olive and white anchovy salad. If you don't have any sort of grill at all, halloumi is just as delicious pan-fried in a dry skillet over moderately high heat.

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