(Full recipe at bottom of post)
We love to find incredibly unique cheeses for the subscribers to our Cheese of the Month Club. A few months ago, the cheesemakers who expertly make our Blaak cheese stopped by and asked us: “Have you ever tried Halloumi?” To which we answered: “Hal-whoey?” It’s pretty tough to stump us on cheeses, but this was one we hadn’t much experience with.
Halloumi is an ancient cheese from Cyprus. It’s pretty complicated for cheesemakers to make…first it’s formed in wheels, then cured a bit, then sliced, then re-heated in hot whey. This changes its protein structure (it becomes very firm & “squeaky”) and gives it a high melting point. The melting point is important, because Halloumi is primarily a cooking cheese. When eaten raw, it’s nothing special…think of a cross between Mozzerella, Feta, and those “String Cheese” snacks they sell at the counter in convenience stores.
But when it’s sautéed? Heaven. The milk proteins begin to melt and caramelize, and this firm salty white cheese turns into soft, golden, savory/sweet mouth pillows. Truly other-worldly. In Cyprus and other Mediterranean countries, Halloumi is a traditional breakfast treat. Sometimes it’s combined with fresh fruit and drizzled with a little honey. Other times it’s served with balsamic vinegar & olives. But Halloumi is also a great appetizer. Even dessert.
You can find Halloumi in your grocery store, in the specialty cheese section. It’s generally shrink wrapped in a plastic container. It’s usually pretty good quality. Of course it’s not like the batch our cheesemaker made specifically for Beekman Cheese of the Month Club subscribers. Milk came in from a local farm, the cheese was handmade in a small batch, and it was shipped out…all in a matter of days. Yep. Membership has its privileges.
Follow along below to see how we prepare Halloumi & Honey in our kitchen. But don’t be afraid to experiment. Try it in a salad with pomegranate, walnuts & endive. Or grill it on your lamb kabobs. Or make a roasted eggplant and melted halloumi sandwich. Blueberries, melted halloumi & maple syrup make an amazing simple dessert.
Since it’s a fresh cheese, your Halloumi will likely come tightly wrapped in plastic…
Most folks either cube it or slice it before sautéing. Slicing helps it hold together better during cooking, but cubing is nice for appetizers or salads.
We usually heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in the pan, with some fresh herbs (try sage, thyme, or rosemary) before adding the Halloumi. Don’t add too much or the flavor will overpower the cheese.
When the cheese starts to melt, it kinda of slumps. That’s the milk proteins separating. It’s also what starts the browning process.
Don’t stir or turn it too frequently. Let it sit and brown on the bottom before flipping. Think of it like cooking an egg.
Prep time: 5 Min
Cook time: 5 Min
¼ lb Halloumi cheese, either sliced in ½ slices or cubes.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary, thyme, basil, or sage
Heat oil and herb in pan over medium heat until oil shimmers. Add cheese. Allow cheese to begin melting and browning before turning and browning other sides. (approximately 3-4 minutes per side.) When golden brown and beginning to lose its shape, serve warm with either drizzle of honey, balsamic vinegar, or olive oil.