Halloumi is a semi-soft, creamy white cheese that is most often a blend of sheep and goat milk. It is mainly produced and consumed in the Cyprus. It is enjoyed also in Greece, Turkey, and other regions of the Middle East. The flavor is mild and slightly salty with a bit of a briny tang. The texture is somewhat like mozzarella in that it is layered and fibrous.
This cheese is most commonly heated before it is eaten. It has a very high melting point. You can grill, fry, sauté, or roast halloumi. Because it holds its shape when heated, it is easy to eat with your hands or with a fork. My preferred method of heating halloumi is to quickly grill it on a George Foreman contact grill. The grill imparts golden marks and gives the cheese a slight charred flavor.
Halloumi is delicious eaten in a sandwich with greens, tomatoes, and olive oil. It is also lovely when served on a platter of cured meats, olives, and preserved lemons. Halloumi fries are a popular snack and street food overseas. Toss halloumi cubes on top of a vegetarian salad for protein and additional texture. My favorite way to serve halloumi is as part of a dessert plate with fresh or grilled fruit and a drizzle of honey.
It isn’t always easy to find halloumi in a traditional supermarket. Specialty stores and artisanal cheese shops will often carry it. Typically, the cheese is made with rennet and formed into rounded blocks. It is packaged in a brine to keep it bacteria free until consumed. You can also find halloumi vacuum packed to prolong the shelf life. You can store the cheese in the refrigerator for several days after opening or you can wrap it well and freeze it for several months.
2 Ways to Serve Grilled Halloumi
You can easily just coat halloumi slices with extra virgin olive oil, grill it, and eat it right off the grill. The 2 recipes described here are a little more elevated than that but still not complicated. I recommend being flexible and creative with the recipes by using them as a starting point. Switch up some of the ingredients if they don’t appeal to you. Think of halloumi as a blank canvas and the base of your imagination and flavor palette.
The first recipe is for halloumi that is grilled with olives and citrus fruits and served with grilled bread. It can be paired with cured pork slices or cooked lamb sausage. This is a perfect starter to a meal or great for a light afternoon lunch enjoyed sitting on the terrace with a glass of wine.
The second recipe combines halloumi with grilled fruit for a healthy dessert option. As mentioned in the recipe, you can use whatever fruit your desire. It makes sense to pair the cheese with seasonal fruits from the same region where the cheese is produced. If you can find honey from the region as well, this is a win/win. I love this dessert with a glass of semi-sweet white or rose wine.
Citrus and Olives Grilled Halloumi Cheese Skewers
- 1 lb halloumi cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 pound large cured green and black pitted olives
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 whole small orange, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 whole lemon cut into 4 wedges
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 TBS fresh chopped rosemary
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Pinch of course sea salt
- 8 slices crusty baguette bread
- 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes
Total time: 1 hour 19 min – Prep time: 1 hour 15 min – Cook time: 4 min – Serves: 4 people
1. In a large bowl, mix together the cheese cubes, olives, EVOO, orange wedges, lemon wedges, garlic, rosemary, pepper, and salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for up to 1 hour.
2. Preheat your Foreman grill to high with the top closed. Place the marinated cheese, olives, and citrus wedges on skewers, alternating the ingredients. Reserve any leftover marinade in the bowl. Grill the skewers for approximately 2 to 4 minutes until you see golden grill marks on the cheese. Rotate the skewers for more even grilling. Remove the skewers to a platter.
3. Toast the bread slices on the seasoned grilled with the top closed until they have nice grill marks, approximately 1 minute.
4. Remove the cheese, olives, and fruit from the skewers. Add the cheese and olives back into the reserved marinade. Squeeze the grilled orange and lemon wedges over the cheese and olives. Discard the citrus peels. Add the red pepper flakes to the bowl and toss everything together.
5. Serve the grilled cheese and olives with toasted baguette slices as an appetizer or afternoon snack with a dry white wine or retsina.
Grilled Halloumi and Fruit with Balsamic and Honey
This recipe is great for a refreshing and healthy dessert option.
- 1 lb halloumi cheese cut into 1/4” thick slices
- 1/3 cup EVOO
- 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 2 peaches* sliced into 4 segments each
- 2 TBS runny honey
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of sea salt
- 4 to 6 leaves fresh mint, rolled and sliced thinly (optional)
*You can use any fruit you like with halloumi cheese. Figs, watermelon, and grapefruit segments all work well.
Total time: 14 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 4 min – Serves: 4 people
1. Preheat your Foreman grill to high with the top closed.
2. Brush all sides of the cheese and fruit slices with EVOO. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar thinly over everything. Grill the cheese for approximately 2 to 4 minutes until you see char marks. Remove the cheese to a platter. Grill the fruit slices until slightly charred. Remove the fruit to the same platter with the cheese.
3. Drizzle the honey over the top of the cheese and fruit. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over everything. Sprinkle the salt over the top. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired. Serve with a nice dessert wine or small cups of espresso.