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The salty, satisfying squeak of fried halloumi

April 4, 2016

      

Colorful tomatoes offer a fresh, cool contrast to cubes of fried halloumi.

Halloumi and I first met at a pub. The slab of salty cheese was battered, fried and served with mushy peas. Terribly British.

Later I learned halloumi comes from Cyprus. It’s known for keeping its cool. Throw it on the grill or into the frying pan, and while the outside crisps, the inside barely melts. Not a skill shared by, say, brie.

Also: it squeaks. In a good way. There’s something novel about squinching into a crispy, chewy, melty cheese cube. Especially when the crispy, chewy, melty cheese cube is tossed with juicy tomatoes and sharp mint. The hot and cool salad serves up fresh and refreshing. Unlike, say, mushy peas.

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TOMATO HALLOUMI SALAD

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

Makes: 2 servings

12 ounces fresh ripe tomatoes — a mix of colors and sizes is appealing

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Vinegar

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

1 egg

1/3 cup water

8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

Flatbread

1. Slice: Slice tomatoes for the salad. No need for uniformity. Big tomatoes are nice sliced into circles or semicircles. Little ones might be best halved on the diagonal. Medium ones, quarter. Heap in a serving bowl.

2. Dress: Sprinkle tomatoes very lightly with salt (halloumi tends to be salty) and generously with pepper. Drizzle on a little oil and vinegar. Toss. Sprinkle on mint, and toss again.

3. Mix: Whisk together flour, oregano, red pepper and mustard. Separately, whisk together egg and water, then whisk into flour mixture. Drop in halloumi and toss to coat.

4. Fry: Slick a large skillet with olive oil, about 1/4-inch deep. Heat over medium. When hot, pull cheese cubes out of the batter and sizzle in the hot skillet. Fry, turning one or twice, until soft inside and golden brown outside, about 5 minutes total. Drain on paper towels. Grind on some pepper.

5. Serve: Toss halloumi cubes into salad. Scoop onto plates, and enjoy with flatbread.

 

 


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