A familiar fixture in many Levantine, Arabic, and Mediterranean households, this delicious semi-hard, unripened and brined cheese is one of the best-kept secrets of the region. Made of a mixture of milks – typically goat’s and cheep’s milk, but occasionally also some cow’s milk depending on the brand – this cheese’s high melting point means that it’s incredibly easy to fry or grill it and enjoy it solid, without melting. It’s for this reason that many of us will be used to consuming it in this simple form of grilled and fried pieces.
Halloumi, like many other cheeses, is a great source of protein, and it also contains plenty of healthy minerals such as calcium. While halloumi does have a fair amount of fat and sodium content to take into consideration, thanks to its robust texture and intense savoury flavour, it makes for a great alternative to meat – and its saltiness is a tasty balancing act against crisp, fresh, veggies. Grill it right, and the crispy exterior with the gooey interior will make for a seriously moreish meal.
How do you use it?
Aside from its most simple (yet utterly delicious) rendition, which is served in slices that have been fried or grilled, Halloumi is also delicious when used as a salad topping, or as a sandwich ingredient. Try serving it grilled amidst a toasted English muffin or flatbread for a lower-carb sandwich option, or wrap it in turkey or beef bacon for a salty finger-food snack. You can also place slices atop a vegetable bake for a hearty vegetarian meal, grilled on kebab sticks, or crumbled into salads that incorporate ingredients such as bulgur or freekeh, or juicy and fresh watermelon, where the sweetness will balance out the salty halloumi perfectly. It’s also great used in omelettes and frittatas or in burgers, and can be sliced into crispy thin “fries” that are delicious served with a zaatar and harissa dip.
Cheesemaking dates all the way back throughout history and some ancient murals have indicated that cheese was being made as early as 2000BC in Egypt. At the time, cheeses in that region were apparently extremely sour and salty thanks to the salt content needed to preserve it in the arid and hot desert climate. Cheese can be made out of various types of milk – such as cashew cheese made with nut milk (which is growing increasingly popular in the modern day thanks to increasing interest in veganism) or even moose cheese.