Monday, April 6, 2009

The New Grilled Cheese

You've all heard me wax prosaic about my deep personal commitment to grilled cheese. I'd eat it every day if I could. And, I did, one year way back in grade school. There's only one problem; I'm trying to stay away from bread ... all recent bread recipes to the contrary. Solution? Grilled halloumi cheese!

Halloumi cheese is by no means new ... just new to this Diva. Hailing from the isle of Cyprus, halloumi is a sheep's milk cheese that has a texture similar to mozzarella and a very high melting point. Consequently it can be grilled, or even fried, directly in the pan. Hold the bread, sear the cheese, and somebody bring me a fork!

While somewhat dubious about this little cheese adventure, I threw caution to the wind, bought some halloumi and whipped up this endearing little salad. I used the last of my POM Wonderful to make a spiced pomegranate molasses ... which turned out to be more akin to a syrup than actual molasses. The texture was a bit thin, owing to either my impatience - I simmered it for 50 minutes - or to the fact that I used agave nectar in place of granulated sugar. That said, the flavor was deep, rich and altogether magnificent - the perfect foil for the salty grilled cheese.

Composed Salad with Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Spiced Pomegranate Syrup:

For the Syrup:
  • 3 cups of 100% pure pomegranate juice, such as POM Wonderful
  • 1/4 cup of agave nectar (or 1/2 cup granulated sugar)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 whole star anise seed
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
Place all of the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to ensure that they are well combined and that, if using, the sugar has dissolved. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a syrupy consistency is formed and the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from heat and strain into a container, cover and keep chilled in the fridge until needed. (If you're looking for a thicker consistency, I would suggest trying the granulated sugar. I have a feeling the thinner texture is due to my agave substitution.)

For the Salad:
  • 2 one ounce slices of halloumi cheese
  • some mixed greens and whatever chopped veggies you desire
  • wedge of fresh lemon
  • dried or fresh oregano
  • some spiced pomegranate syrup
Prepare your salad by combining the mixed greens and whatever chopped veggies you desire on a plate. Reserve.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed grill pan over high heat and brush it with just a bit of olive oil. Add the sliced halloumi and grill one one side until golden brown, turn and grill the other side accordingly. When grilled to your liking, remove from pan and place atop your salad. Drizzle the cheese with a bit of fresh lemon juice, dust with a bit of oregano and drizzle the entire salad with the spiced pomegranate syrup to taste. Serve and enjoy!

As written, this recipe will serve one very happy individual, though there will be plenty of spiced pomegranate syrup left-over for other uses. This salad makes a wonderful, relatively light lunch. Naturally, there's some fat in the cheese, about 8 grams per serving, but I don't have a problem with that. Its low in carbs, has a nice amount of protein, and using halloumi makes for a refreshing change from my typical turkey or chicken topped salad. I loved it, and I hope you will too.

So, are you familiar with halloumi cheese? What have you cooked up with this intriguing ingredient? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetit!


doggybloggy said...

I WANT THIS NOW! holy shizzle does this look good!

The Diva on a Diet said...

C'mon over, doggy, I've got plenty of fixin's left! :)

Tracy said...

I've never cooked with Halloumi, but I have eaten it on several occasions... I love it! This salad looks amazing and I'm glad you experimented with making pomegranate molasses... even if it didn't quite work out as anticipated. It's fun to play with food, anyway :)

Heavenly Housewife said...

Hubby and I love haloumi. I buy loads of it from Costco :). I love that you can cook it without adding any extra fat. We eat it on toasted bread with sliced tomato and oregano.

words words words said...

I was not familiar with Halloumi...I'm amazed that there is a cheese with all those properties. Definitely something to look into!

Cookie Brochette said...

You fooled me! I thought it was grilled chicken on that lovely salad. It sounds amazing, as usual. You have such a gift.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tracy - it is fun to play with food! And, though it was thinner than I would have liked, the syrup is mighty tasty. I'm going to work it into something else for dinner tonight. :)

Heavenly Housewife - mmm, I'll bet its divine with the sliced tomato and fresh oregano. Yum.

words words words - its some magical stuff alright. So fun to just grill it up all on its own. I understand you can use it for kabobs too.

Cookie - I thought the same thing when I uploaded that pic - it *does* look like chicken! Aw, thanks, man. :)

Anonymous said...

I love haloumi! It's not that popular here in Toronto but at least we can get it now. Until a year or so ago it was absent from most stores.

Anonymous said...

Look at your perfect grill marks! Yum haloumi. Give it to us just like this with lemon juice and capers.

Anonymous said...

The things I learn from my favorite Diva! Never heard of haloumi but will search the suburban food stores for it. It looks delicious and goat's milk cheese is a favorite of mine anyway. It looks hearty enough to stand alone without bread. Thanks!

aoife mc said...

I love halloumi, it's great. Sometimes I have it covered in paprika and deep fried, sometimes I eat it grilled in a fig and green salad, and sometimes I have it grilled with pasta, pesto and toasted pine nuts. It may be my favourite cheese.
Glad you've made a new friend, your salad looks yum!

Daily Spud said...

All hail halloumi - I am a big fan. Your pomegranate syrup sounds like a superb accompaniment! I fry halloumi in butter and eat with baked portobello mushrooms, topped with some more butter and squeezed over with lemon juice. Mmmmmmm.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Dana - so glad I finally tried it. It was wonderful. I feared that I wouldn't be able to find it at the store either ... but happily that was not the case.

Duo - mmm, the lemon goes exceptionally well with halloumi and the capers would be nice too. Yum!

Anonymous - Mama Diva ... is that you?! LOL

Aoife - I am loving your paprika suggestion. Will be doing that with the remainder. Thanks!

Spud - oooh, I like the mushroom suggestion too. So many great options. Thanks to you too!

Life for Beginners said...

That sure looks yummy. I'm not familiar with Halloumi either but after your post, I'm gonna be looking out for it at my nearest supermart.

Here's to playing with food! :)

Juliet said...

No, I'm not familiar with halloumi (how could it be? it looks so good!), but I want some. I am going to get some asap!!! :)

Heavenly Housewife said...

Hey Diva, I have tagged you in my latest post :), check it out.

stephchows said...

Seriously delicious!! What a great idea :)

Tangled Noodle said...

This looks divine! I need to get on the halloumi bandwagon immediately. And your spiced POM molasses sounds awesome - my thought processes never got farther than 'simmer with sugar until reduced'. I'm definitely going to give it a try.

pixelgal said...

How did you know it was me? Actually I oopsed on the part where I was supposed to put in my name. LOL that you guessed! See you soon.

The Diva on a Diet said...

I'm so pleased that I've introduced this yummy cheese to some of you for the first time. Its remarkably versatile and so delicious. Let me know how you like it! :)

Pixelgal - I had a feeling! LOL

Heavenly Housewife - thanks! Will put the Meme up later this week.

Tangled Noodle - did you make molasses with your POM using sugar? If so, did it thicken up for you? I like spicy things, so I opted for the pepper and anise. It made for a really nice combination with the POM juice ... but I just wanted it to be thicker.

Deb said...

I've seen it as an appetizer at a middle eastern restaurant that we visit but have never tried it but ah grilled cheese without the bread - what a great idea!

Diva you rock!