Say Hello to Halloumi

By Esther Boateng

Take a break from tedious food prep and indulge in "a slice of nice": toasted sourdough topped with chickpea hummus, halloumi, roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes. I don’t know everything about cheese, but I do know halloumi is one heck of a cheese. Those of you who’ve had the pleasure of tasting this little beauty will know exactly what I mean. 

Halloumi is not your average cheese; for a start, it’s semi hard. It’s deliciously salty with a light tanginess that comes from its salty brine. Although you can eat it fresh out of the package, I think it tastes much better heated up, which brings out a lot of flavor. Halloumi has a unique flexible texture, and holds its shape well when cooked, just like feta or paneer. You can put it under the grill, barbeque it, or flash fry it in a pan. It you pan-fry it, like I did, it only needs 3-4 minutes, otherwise you run the risk of eating rubbery cheese.

A super sharp knife will help you slice the cheese evenly. If each slice is roughly the same thickness, this will ensure they cook evenly. It gets tricky when you try to keep an eye on each slice, to make sure none get too brown. If you monitor them closely, and flip them on constant rotation, you’ll end up with wonderfully golden slices.

Halloumi gets chewy as it cools. If you have your ingredients on hand (fire-roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, hummus, and green leaves, if you choose to include them), it’ll be a breeze when you stack your toppings. You can chop your fire-roasted red peppers or use them whole if you don’t fancy the extra work. I included sundried tomatoes because I like to use any leftovers in my fridge. Feel free to use ingredients you have readily available, such as olives or pickled onions. You’ll notice that salt is missing from the ingredients list, and with good reason. The toppings I use in my open sandwich, fondly known as a sarnie in the UK, contain adequate salt and do not need additional.

Whenever time permits, I like to make my own hummus with sprouted chickpeas. If you use canned chickpeas, don’t discard the leftover liquid, also known as aquafaba. Pour it into your blender when you make your homemade hummus, instead of using plain filtered water. It makes an excellent emulsifier, thickener, and binder for many recipes, including hummus. Whether you use homemade or store-bought hummus, this sarnie makes a tasty snack or meal that you can whip up in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!


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