Food You Can Eat: Seared Halloumi

It looks a little overdone maybe, but it tasted great.

I’ve started doing a meal kit again recently (Hello Fresh this time, but I also did Dinnerly in the past), and it’s been working to push me back into the kitchen. I get bored and unmotivated, and it’s nice to be handed a selection of 8 vegetarian recipes every week and to be told to pick 2 and they’ll deliver the ingredients to me. Really takes some of the executive function demands out of cooking, which I appreciate. (What I don’t appreciate is all the screwed-up boxes, but that’s nothing against these recipes.)

Hello Fresh has several halloumi recipes, which has pushed me to finally try making it (though they sometimes call it “grilling cheese”, because I think “halloumi” might technically have to come from Cyprus?). I’ve wanted to try halloumi for years but was vaguely intimidated by it. Turns out it’s pretty easy. It’s a semi-hard, squeaky cheese that doesn’t melt easily, so people love to grill or sear it. It can get a really nice crust and the inside just gets a little melty. Here are two different halloumi recipes I’ve gotten from them that have both been wonderful. Both are for two servings worth. I usually make big meals to have leftovers, but the halloumi is best fresh. If you do make extra and have some left over, I have found it to be pretty good cold the next day. I’ve heard it reheats ok in the pan or oven, but I haven’t tested that.

A note on the spice blends – HF provides these as blends, and you can often buy them as spice blends too, but they can vary. The HF reddit helpfully has a post listing what they believe all the different blends are, so I’ve included those. I’ve made the shawarma blend and it worked out great. It’s also worth noting that the amounts of spices listed in the recipes should be taken as approximate. HF provides little packets that say things like “1 tbsp” on them, which usually align with the amount you need in the recipe; I measured a “1 tbsp” packet once because it seemed like a lot more and I got nearly 2 tbsp. So, when you make these, you might decide to go a little more generous with the spice blend than the recipe says. 

Shawarma-Spiced Halloumi over Rice

  • 1 tbsp Shawarma blend
    • 2 part turmeric, 2 part cumin
    • 1 part coriander, 1 part garlic powder, 1 part paprika
    • ½ part allspice, ½ part black pepper
  • 8 oz halloumi
  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • ~1 tsp veggie stock concentrate
  • ½ oz pistachios, roughly chopped (You might notice in the header image that I left my pistachios whole rather than dirty a knife and cutting board with allergens for others in the house, but it is nicer if you crush/chop them.)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced. Mince a few slices to get 2 tbsp minced for the rice.
  • 4 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce (cholula or similar)
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

Melt 1 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add minced shallot, half the garlic, ½ tbsp Shawarma Spice, and a pinch of salt. (HF also puts half the pistachios to cook in the rice, reserving the rest for serving. My husband is allergic to nuts so I only used them for serving on my plate at the end, and I feel like that might be better anyway because I prefer nuts to stay crunchy.) Cook, stirring, for about a minute. Stir in rice, ¾ cup water, stock concentrate (or sub whatever kind of broth you like), and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to low. Cook until rice is tender, 15-18 minutes. Keep covered off heat until ready to serve.

(Note: I actually did the rice in the Instant Pot. Saute the stuff at the beginning, then put in the rice and liquid and set to high pressure for 2 minutes. Allow to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the way.)

In a medium bowl, combine cucumber, tomatoes, and sliced shallot. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. 

In a small bowl, combine sour cream with remaining garlic and a little salt. For this part, I like to drag the side of a knife against the garlic on the cutting board to mash it into more of a paste. 

Cut the halloumi block into four slabs. Coat with remaining ½ tbsp Shawarma spice, salt, and pepper. Heat some oil in a large pan over medium high. Neutral oil is probably a better idea than olive oil, since it has a higher smoke point. HF recommends a nonstick pan, but I avoid nonstick so I just used a well oiled cast iron. Sear cheese until browned, 1-2 minutes per side.

Fluff rice with a fork and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve rice topped with salad and cheese. Dollop garlic sour cream on top along with hot sauce to taste. Sprinkle with pistachios.

Za’atar-Crusted Halloumi over Couscous and Roasted Veggies

If you noticed the rogue carrots that don’t appear in the recipe below – good eye. One of the zucchinis HF sent me was rotten, so I threw in some carrots I had in my fridge.
  • 1 tbsp Za’atar blend
    • 1 part thyme, 1 part toasted sesame seeds, 1 part sumac
    • ½ part oregano, ½ part marjoram, ½ part pepper
    • (Technically this should include za’atar spice, but practically, it is apparently closely related to thyme, oregano, and marjoram and those are sometimes used instead)
  • 8 oz halloumi
  • 1 red onion, halved and cut into 1 inch wedges. Mince one wedge.
  • 1 zucchini, cut however you like for roasting (HF recommends wedges, but I did thin slabs)
  • 4 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2.5 oz israeli couscous (or more – I found this to be a slightly small portion for 2 people)
  • ~1 tsp veggie stock concentrate
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper

Heat broiler to high. 

First make the couscous. Heat a little oil over medium high. Add minced onion and couscous and stir for a couple of minutes until onion softens and couscous is lightly toasted. Add ¾ cup water and stock concentrate. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a low simmer. Cook 6-8 min until couscous is tender. Keep covered off heat.

(Again, I did this in my Instant Pot. I sauteed the onion and couscous, added the water and stock concentrate, and set to high pressure for 5 minutes, with a quick release afterward. I then left the lid slightly ajar so it wouldn’t continue to get overcooked while I finished up the rest.)

Throw the zucchini and onion wedges on a baking sheet with olive oil, sumac, salt, and pepper. Broil about 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway through, until lightly charred.

While veggies cook, slice your cheese block into four slabs. Coat all sides in za’atar. Really press it in to try to get it to stick. Heat some oil in a large pan over medium high. Sear cheese until browned, 1-2 minutes per side.

Toss couscous with tomatoes, lemon zest, broiled veggies, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Serve couscous topped with 2 pieces of cheese per person. If you’re the sort of person that likes cilantro, HF recommends garnishing with it. I did not. 

Bonus recipe? 

The above are the two recipes I’ve tried, but there’s a third I am scheduled to get in a few weeks. It’s very similar to the above ones, but the spice blend on the halloumi is Italian seasoning. Also it has a stupid recipe name. It’s served over lemony garlicky couscous and sauteed kale, onions, and tomatoes. You could easily extend this type of recipe to a lot of different spice blends, and put the halloumi over any sort of grain seasoned similarly.

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18 Comments

  1. I did HF for a while. I liked it for the most part but sometimes the timing of delivery options was off for me. I didn’t know about the HF Reddit. Thanks for that and the recipes, I’ll try this.

    • Haha yep. Back when the only grocery store near me was Market Basket, no way did they have halloumi. Now I’m near a big enough city with a Shaws that has “halloumi-style grilling cheese”.

        • Oh my god, you have no idea how many times I’ve watched that, and I laughed so hard every. Single. Time.

          I used to live near there and made jokes about the three market baskets on Boston Rd. Someone shared it with me because of that and I’ve since shared that video with a lot of people. It’s so perfectly Billerica (or for people unfamiliar with that town – perfectly Massachusetts white working class suburbia).

    • But the massive illness and recall is Daily Harvest, not Hello Fresh… Unless there’s a connection I’m missing?

      That said, I don’t know that I’d specifically recommend Hello Fresh to anyone. They’ve screwed up a bunch of my boxes, their customer service is wildly inconsistent, and they engage in a lot of deceptive marketing. I plan to cancel once I get through my discounts and credits from all the screw ups.

  2. dangit…..if you’d posted this earlier i could have popped over to the farmers market to get some halloumi

    stuffs delicious

    welp….markets here again saturday

  3. Somehow I managed to read the intro to your post and then my brain interpreted the entire recipe section as for “halibut” and not “halloumi”

    Deep sigh, so much for reading comprehension. Hahahhahahaa.

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