My veggie kitchen heroes no 1 – halloumi

Nando's mango and lime peri peri sauce
Mild enough for my tastes, Nando’s mango and lime peri peri is the perfect partner for halloumi

I started this blog series several weeks ago (if you didn’t catch the first one, please read up here).  As the weather improves and barbeque season gets underway, I thought I’d post something about a personal favourite that’s also really great for cooking over the coals.

My first veggie kitchen hero is halloumi.  This Cypriot cheese really is a handy ingredient to have around.  Unopened in the fridge, it will keep for weeks and when you cook with it, absorbs flavours really well.  It’s naturally quite salty, delightfully squidgy and for a cheese, handles heat really well, meaning that it can be toasted, griddled or roasted – and it’s great on a barbeque (a meat juice free one, naturally).

Nando’s have a superb grilled mushroom and halloumi burger on their menu at the moment and inspired by this I recently acquired a bottle of their mango and lime peri peri sauce.  This was a fine acquisition and I can’t wait to slather it over a few skewers loaded with vegetables, lime wedges and halloumi chunks before slinging them on the barbeque or my stove top griddle pan.

If you’d prefer to make something from scratch, try roasting halloumi in a Mediterranean bake:

Halloumi bake
Chewy, salty, crunchy, a little sweet – this halloumi Mediterranean bake is always a welcome visitor to my table
  • Throw chunks of halloumi, two pieces of a quartered lemon, a few par-boiled potatoes cut into cubes, courgettes and a chunky cut red onion into a roasting tin with a couple of glugs of olive oil a little garlic and rosemary.  Season to taste (go ease on the salt) – then toss it all together to make sure it’s well covered.
  • To keep the carnivores happy, make the same thing in another tin with chicken thighs instead of halloumi (allow two, maybe three per person) and then multiply the ingredients in the vegetarian version above, depending on how many you are cooking for.
  • Roast the chicken version for a good 45 minutes at 200°c (180°c fan) or gas mark 6 for around 45 minutes, turning the ingredients over now and again to make sure the chicken is cooked through properly.
  • Roast the halloumi version for about 30 minutes, again turning it to make sure the halloumi doesn’t stick.

    Chicken Mediterranean bake
    The chicken version of the halloumi dish above for those who can’t quite drop the meat – it’s easy to cook both at the same time
  • To slip a little extra nutrition in with some wow factor, try crisscrossing your tray with some stalks of purple sprouting broccoli for the last 15 minutes.  Looks good, tastes good.

I cooked this for dinner only last night, chucking in a few plum cherry tomatoes off the vine five minutes before the broccoli.  The sweet, sticky sauce it created with the lemon was delightful.

And, I was informed by both my kids that next time they’d both like the halloumi version rather than the chicken.  Looks like my husband will be the odd one out for a change.

Most chicken drumstick/thigh recipes work well with halloumi.  It can stick to a pan if you’re not careful but oil it well and you shouldn’t have a problem.  Sticky, sweet flavours work really well but don’t go crazy with the salt – it’s already pretty salty and it’s easy for it to get overpowering.  It’s great with plenty of veg and because it’s already pretty substantial, you can go easy with the carbs, which is fantastic news for a carb-sensitive vegetarian like me.

I’d love to hear about your favourite halloumi recipes or if I’ve inspired you to try something new.


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