Meatless Monday and Grilled Haloumi

Oct 2012
The first time I had haloumi cheese I was in college studying abroad for a January. It left quite an impression! The cheese is popular across the Middle East and has a salty, chewy texture; unlike anything else I have ever tasted. When heated, it magically doesn’t melt.  If you’ve visited here before, you know I am a fan of Maria Speck’s Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, so I was thrilled to find this recipe that took me back to my youth {and satisfied my grown up palate} for this Meatless Monday.
Grilled haloumi cheese and wheat berries.

My pantry was filled with wheat berries, so I did substitute them for the rye berries listed in Maria’s recipe. 

Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

I can’t recommend this cookbook enough.  For someone who gave up meat fairly recently, it is filled with unusual whole grain goodness, pleasing my families taste buds at every turn! The author knows her way around Mediterranean grains, everything from barley and farro, to kamut and polenta.  The book will open up a whole new world for you.

Ingredients for grilled haloumi salad with leeks.

Grilled Haloumi Cheese over Leek Salad with Rye Berries-serves 4-6
Rye Berries
1 1/2 c. Water
3/4 c. Rye berries, soaked overnight and drained
2 medium leeks, cleaned and cut into 3/4″ segments
1/2 c. Lows odium vegetable broth
1 {2″ X 1″} strip orange zest, white pith removed(optional)
1/4 c. Chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained, 2t. Oil reserved
1/4 c. Chopped fresh mint, plus 2T. for garnish
2T. Nonpareil capers
1/4 t. Fine sea salt
3/4 t. Fennel seeds
1/4 t. Freshly ground black pepper
To Finish
1/4 lb. Haloumi cheese
11/2t. Dried crumbled oregano or thyme
1/4 t. Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. Dried red pepper flakes {optional}
  • To prepare the rye, bring water and the rye berries to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the berries are tender but still chewy, 50-60 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cover and let steam for 10-15 minutes if time permits.  Drain any remaining liquid and transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.  
  • While the rye cools, prepare the salad.  Bring the leeks, broth and orange zest to a boil in a large saucepan.  Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the leeks are soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain the leeks and add them to the servicing bowl with the rye berries. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 c. mint and the capers, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, keeping in mind that the capers and haloumi can be quite salty.
  • To finish, position a rack about 6″ below the heat source and preheat the broiler.  Cut the haloumi into thin slices, about 1/4″ thick and put them on a plate.  Sprinkle with the oregano, pepper, pepper flakes, and reserved 2 t. of tomato oil; rub the oil and spices all over to coat both sides. {work gently as the cheese breaks quite easily} Transfer the cheese to a medium cast iron skillet or a broiler pan.
  • Broil the haloumi until the slices just start to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes, turning once with a spatula.  Watch closely as you don’t want the cheese to dry out.  
  • Top the salad with the haloumi.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 T. mint, and serve right away. 

Grilled haloumi salad with wheat berries and leeks.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the author.