Halloumi is a salty cheese, with a distinctive texture, similar to Mozzarella. It was first made in Cyprus by the Greeks, later gaining popularity in the middle east. Traditional Halloumi is made with unpasteurized sheep and goats milk, then wrapped with mint leaves, to help with preservation. The cheese would then be stored in its own juices with salt-water and frozen for up-to one year.
This white cheese has a super high melting point, which makes it a great option for frying(saganaki) or grilling. You can find Halloumi on the menu in many Greek, Lebanese and other middle eastern restaurants. A classic Halloumi pairing is with watermelon and mint. The sweetness of the watermelon contrasts the saltiness of the cheese, to make a perfectly coupled pairing.
I was inspired to make this at home because lately I’ve been feeling the travel bug, but know I have 10 months to go before we leave on our honeymoon. Usually, we’re able to pick up and go more regularly, but we have a wedding and honeymoon to save for this year. Who knew being a grown up would be so freaking expensive!!!
Instead of traveling, I opted to make a special dinner for my fiancé that would remind him of our travels. Saganaki was one of Rez’s favorite things to order on our vacation so I decided to take my own spin on the dish and serve it with a strawberry salsa.
Strawberries are in season right now and can be found pretty much everywhere! I was able to snag some super sweet local berries from the farmers market and was crazy-happy with the results. Make sure to serve this with a slotted spoon so you don’t get too too much liquid on the plate.
Rez & I recently did a little road trip and ended up at a delightful winery called Sundance Vineyards, in Solvang California. While tasting wines, we sampled olive oils and balsamic vinegars made on-site. They were incredible! We tasted this 18 year old strawberry balsamic vinegar that I immediately knew I had to have. I really felt like just yelling MINE! I was such a fan, I started making everyone in the tasting room try it and next thing you know; we’ve all bought the vinegar to take home, for ourselves and as gifts. It was $20.00 for a 200ml bottle, so not the cheapest but it was so worth the splurge. I used it in the recipe instead of balsamic glaze and it was heavenly. I only break out this little gem for special occasions, like bringing me out of my travel blues.
- 1 package halloumi cheese (7 oz)
- 6 oz strawberries, hulled and diced
- ¼ cup red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tsp lime zest
- small handful fresh mint & cilantro
- balsamic glaze to drizzle
- flour for coating the halloumi
- Combine all ingredients(except flour & halloumi) together in a large bowl, reserving a small amount of mint for garnish.
- Cover and put the strawberry salsa in the fridge for a few minutes while you cook the halloumi.
- Cut halloumi into ¼ inch slices, dip in water and dredge in flour if desired.
- Heat enough oil in a small frying pan to cover base, fry cheese until slightly golden on each side.
- Arrange halloumi cheese on a platter and top with strawberry salsa.
- Finish the plate by drizzling with balsamic glaze and garnish with mint.