Grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers
When we first started eating a diet of mainly Mediterranean and Asian foods (many years ago!) we regularly had to shop at specialty grocers to buy Mediterranean and Asian ingredients, from tahini to tofu, Kalamata olives to oyster sauce, and miso to arborio rice. Not any more — thanks to the growing enthusiasm for ethnic foods, most mainstream supermarkets now stock a wide variety of authentic international ingredients to cater to expanding tastes.
Supermarkets have also introduced more Mediterranean dairy foods onto their shelves, such as Greek yogurt and many different types of cheeses. These days, next to the cheddar, you can usually find a wide selection of cheeses from the Mediterranean region including Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, feta and halloumi.
Originating from Cyprus, halloumi cheese has the amazing ability to not melt over high heat. Instead it browns on the outside and softens delightfully on the inside without turning into a hot gooey mess.
These grilled skewers are one of the tastiest ways we know to enjoy halloumi. The fresh lemon and mint marinade adds a herby-citrus tang that balances the saltiness of the cheese. And the delicious golden brown exterior of the grilled halloumi lends itself perfectly to the sweet, caramelized flavor of the grilled vegetables. We often serve them alongside grilled fish or seafood together with some crusty bread and a simple side salad.
5 oz (140g) halloumi cheese — cut into 1-inch cubes
8 cherry tomatoes
½ zucchini — cut into rounds
½ red onion — cut into 4 wedges then cut in half crosswise
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove — minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Variations: Other vegetables such as peppers of various colors, eggplant, and mushrooms also work well. Add a touch of dried chili flakes or chili sauce to the marinade for a spicy kick. Replace the halloumi with shrimp, scallops or chicken. Try adding cubes of grilled halloumi to a classic Greek salad in place of feta.
Serving suggestions: The cheese and vegetables should be cut to roughly the same size so that each piece has direct contact with the grill to ensure even cooking (you want the cheese to turn golden brown and just start to melt and the vegetables to be tender.) If you’re using bamboo or wooden skewers, soak them in water for around 30 minutes beforehand to prevent them from burning. You can also cook these skewers indoors using a stove-top grill pan or electric grill, or under a hot oven broiler.