Since moving to Astoria this summer, I’ve been exposed to a whole new world of Mediterranean cuisine. My favorite discovery is halloumi cheese, which hails from the island of Cyprus. It’s made from sheep and goat milk, and it has a very high melting point, so you can grill it – directly on the grill – and it won’t fall apart.
It’s like steak, but made of cheese. And frankly, even if I weren’t a vegetarian, I’d prefer halloumi to steak.
So, taking inspiration from a recipe from the excellent Café Bar, we bought some halloumi from the grocery store and made our own version this weekend. We don’t have a BBQ grill right now, so we basically fried it on the stovetop, and it was still amazing and I’m still calling this “chargrilled,” even though it technically isn’t.
-One block halloumi cheese, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
-Good sliced sourdough bread, or Panini-style flatbread
-Ripe tomato, thinly sliced
-finely chopped garlic
In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add half a teaspoon garlic, stir. Add 4-5 slices of halloumi, sprinkling some salt on cheese. Saute for a few minutes, then flip cheese slices.
Brush olive oil on two slices of bread. Place the sautéed cheese on one slice of bread, then add two slices of tomatoes and several sprigs of basil. Place other slice of bread on top. Place entire sandwich in skillet, pressing down on it with spatula. Flip after a couple of minutes. Serve hot.