Grilled Halloumi Burgers with Citrus Tapenade

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These vegetarian burgers feature halloumi, a tangy, salty cheese from Cyprus that holds its shape when heated, making it ideal for the grill. When grilled or sautéed, halloumi develops a charred crust that yields to soft cheese inside. Here, we cut the halloumi across the equator for the centerpiece of the burger, and season it with cumin, salt, and pepper. It's then topped with a citrusy olive tapenade with just enough crushed red pepper flakes to lend it a touch of heat. A lemony aïoli complements the citrus in the tapenade and natural tang of the halloumi. The roasted red peppers round out this burger; be sure to blot them dry before using so they don't slip out of the bun when you take a bite. Try to seek out brioche buns for these burgers; their slightly sweet flavor works perfectly here.

Grilled Halloumi Burger with Citrus Tapenade
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Prop Styling by Julia Bayless / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
Servings:
4

Ingredients

Citrus Tapenade

  • 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives

  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives

  • cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon drained capers

  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 large garlic cloves

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing halloumi

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), divided

Halloumi Burgers

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • ¼ teaspoon grated or finely chopped garlic

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks halloumi cheese, split horizontally into 1/2-inch-thick planks

  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 4 brioche buns, split horizontally

  • 2 jarred roasted red bell peppers (from 1 [16-ounce] jar), halved lengthwise

Directions

Make the Citrus Tapenade:

  1. Pulse olives, parsley, capers, orange zest, crushed red pepper, and garlic in a food processor until chopped and evenly combined, about 8 pulses. Add oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; pulse until combined, about 3 pulses. Cover tapenade; refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare the Halloumi Burgers:

  1. Stir together mayonnaise, grated garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Cover aïoli; refrigerate until ready to use.

  2. Preheat a grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Brush each halloumi piece with oil; sprinkle halloumi evenly with cracked pepper, cumin, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Place halloumi on unoiled grates; grill, uncovered, until browned and charred in places, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill.

  3. Spread 1 tablespoon aïoli on each bun half. Place 1 roasted red pepper half on each bottom bun half, then top with 1 halloumi piece. Spoon 1/4 cup Citrus Tapenade on top of each halloumi piece. Replace top bun halves. Serve. Aïoli and Citrus Tapenade may be stored in airtight containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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