Halloumi cheese, originally from Cyprus, is well known throughout Mediterranean countries as well as in England, where it’s been on the menus of fast food chains like Pret a Manger for several years in various sandwiches, and featured in recipes by celebrity TV chefs in a range of dishes. Now it’s getting more exposure in other locations, even threatening to steal some thunder from the summer salad staple of Italian origin, mozzarella. So instead of a caprese salad with mozzarella and tomato, your barbecue events could be featuring halloumi, particularly appreciated by vegans as an alternative to meat, but also increasingly finding more favour among other eaters.
Yet another tomato mozzarella salad? Not this year. Because a semi-hard, briny Cypriot cheese is stealthily looking to overtake the soft Italian cheese. Okay, mozzarella, which is also a favourite pizza topper, probably isn’t going anywhere soon; statistics show that US per capita consumption of the Italian specialty was 12.48 pounds in 2019 compared with 10.08 pounds in 2009. Of course when it comes to eating it in a salad, purists are fussy, insisting on buffalo milk. But unless you have a chic Italian grocery store within walking distance, it’s easy to be fooled by bland industrial ersatz cheeses.
A halloumi shakeup?
So is it any coincidence then that our cheese affections are being captured by Mediterranean cousin, halloumi? This Cypriot cheese seems to have everything going for it. Its texture, quite unique and recognisable, is slightly rubbery, but does not melt when cooked due to its high melting point, making it perfect for grilling season. That’s why it is increasingly used as a meat substitute in burgers, as a vegan alternative.
But it can also be eaten in fried sticks, coated with breadcrumbs, to be shared and dipped in a sauce, for example a minty yogurt one. For more spice, you can also try harissa (but be careful with sensitive taste buds) or zaatar. Halloumi can also be eaten in souvlaki format, a kind of Greek-style of grilled skewers served in pita or by itself.
Basically, halloumi can be used in an infinite number of Mediterranean recipes, relegating mozzarella to the rank of old news. You’ve been warned.
This story was published via AFP Relaxnews