What’s the Best Way to Grill a Halloumi Cheese with a Delightful Char?

Halloumi, an unripened cheese originating from the island of Cyprus, has carved its niche in the culinary world. Its unique ability to withstand high temperatures without melting makes it an ideal candidate for grilling. But how can you achieve that delightful char that enhances its savory characteristics and gives it a delightful crunch? In this article, we’ll walk you through a simple yet effective recipe to grill halloumi to perfection every time.

Unlocking the Secret of the Grill: Halloumi Cheese

The first step to grilling halloumi is understanding what makes it different from other cheeses. Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk. It has a high melting point, which allows it to be fried or grilled without losing its shape.

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To grill halloumi, you need to start by slicing it. Aim for slices that are about 1 cm thick. This size ensures the cheese holds its shape during grilling, while also allowing enough surface area for a good char.

Next, prepare your grill. If using a charcoal grill, allow the coals to burn down until they are covered with white ash. This is usually after about 20-30 minutes. If you’re using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high heat.

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Once your grill is ready, lightly brush each side of the halloumi slices with olive oil. This helps prevent the cheese from sticking to the grill, while also aiding in the caramelization process that creates the desired char.

Place the halloumi slices directly on the grill grates. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until the halloumi takes on a beautiful golden-brown color and shows clear grill marks.

Alternative: Pan-Grilled Halloumi

Don’t have a grill, or simply prefer cooking indoors? No problem! Halloumi can also be beautifully charred in a pan.

Start by heating a non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, lightly brush the halloumi slices with olive oil and place them in the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until the halloumi develops a crispy, golden-brown crust. Make sure to give the cheese ample room; overcrowding the pan could cause the slices to steam rather than brown.

Serving Suggestions for Grilled Halloumi

Grilled halloumi is wonderfully versatile and can be used in a myriad of dishes. One of the most popular ways to enjoy grilled halloumi is in a salad.

To make a simple grilled halloumi salad, start by arranging a bed of mixed greens on a plate. Add cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and red onion rings. Top with the grilled halloumi and drizzle with a dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. The salty, creamy halloumi is a perfect counterbalance to the fresh, crunchy vegetables and tangy dressing.

Grilled halloumi can also be served as a side dish or appetizer. Simply arrange the grilled halloumi slices on a platter, sprinkle with fresh herbs like mint or parsley, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top.

Proper Storage and Reheating

Even though it’s best served immediately, grilled halloumi can be stored for later use. Once cooled, place the cheese in an airtight container and refrigerate.

To reheat, use a microwave or a pan. If using a microwave, warm the cheese in 30-second intervals until it reaches your desired temperature. If using a pan, heat over medium heat for about 2-3 mins on each side. Take care not to overheat, as the cheese may become rubbery.

To sum up, grilling halloumi is a straightforward process that requires a few key steps: slicing the cheese to the right thickness, properly heating your grill or pan, lightly oiling the cheese to prevent sticking and enhance caramelization, and cooking for the right amount of time on each side. With these steps, you can achieve a delightful char on your halloumi cheese, adding a deliciously savory and crunchy element to your meals. Remember, it’s not just about the recipe, but also the technique that goes into grilling this distinctive cheese.

The Nutritional Benefits of Grilled Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi cheese not only offers a unique taste and texture but also carries significant nutritional benefits. A serving of halloumi provides a robust amount of protein, making it a suitable choice for those who embrace a protein-rich diet. It is also a good source of calcium, which is essential for bone health.

However, bear in mind that halloumi is high in saturated fat and sodium. It’s important to consume it in moderation as part of a balanced diet. You can also pair it with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to create a healthy and balanced meal. A colorful grilled halloumi salad with a mix of leafy greens, ripe tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and a light drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice is a fantastic, nutrient-rich meal option.

When it comes to the flavorful world of cheese, the phrase "less is more" often applies. Even though halloumi can withstand high grilling temperatures and gains an attractive golden-brown color with clear grill marks, it’s key to remember that these aesthetic and taste factors should not lead to over-consumption. Balance and moderation are needed to fully enjoy the nutritional benefits of grilled halloumi.

Conclusion: The Art of Grilling Halloumi

Grilling halloumi cheese to perfection is an art that can be mastered with a bit of practice and dedication. Understanding the unique qualities of halloumi, such as its high melting point and optimal slice thickness, are fundamental to achieving the perfect grill.

The steps are simple: slice the halloumi cheese, heat your grill or pan, brush the cheese with olive oil, and cook for the right amount of time to achieve the desired golden brown char. The result is a beautifully grilled halloumi cheese with a delightful crunch and savory flavor that will elevate your meals.

Whether served in a salad, as a side dish, or as a stand-alone appetizer, grilled halloumi is a versatile food item that can adapt to a variety of dishes. Its unique texture and taste, coupled with its nutritional benefits, make it a must-try for all cheese enthusiasts.

Remember to store and reheat properly to maintain its quality. Above all, enjoy the process of grilling halloumi, as well as the delicious results. Now that you have mastered the art of grilling halloumi, it is time to invite friends and family over to share in the delight of this Cypriot gem. So, heat up your grill, slice your halloumi cheese, and let the grilling begin!

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