Monday, July 25, 2016

Grilled halloumi with a cherry tomato, cherry and pomegranate molasses salsa

I would never become a vegetarian but with all the beautiful vegetarian dishes the cuisine of my country, Greece, has, I could easily spend the whole summer —when all the delicious vegetables are in season— without even a single bite of meat.

Briam, stuffed tomatoes, peas with potatoes, spanakorizo, green beans in a tomato sauce are only a sample of the Greek dishes that are perfect for this time of year. Give me a big slab of good Greek feta, preferably barrel-aged which is a bit tangier than the regular one, and a crusty loaf of bread and I’m set. I honestly don’t need anything else.

As much as I love all the aforementioned dishes, I also love dishes that are easy to cook smack in the middle of summer when the temperatures are high and the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven or spend more time than necessary in the kitchen.

Such dishes are of course salads, generous, luscious and full of flavor and texture, capable to satisfy your hunger but also please the eye with their vibrant color, and dishes that are based on cheese, like this one, in which essentially the halloumi substitutes the main protein like meat or fish.

If you like halloumi, then this dish is for you. The halloumi is grilled or pan-fried in a little bit of olive oil just enough to create a thin, golden crust that’s crispy and addictive while inside it is transformed into a wonderfully soft and slightly chewy cheese that melts in the mouth. It is served with a flavorsome and visually appealing salsa which includes plump cherry tomatoes and sweet, juicy cherries, red onion and fiery dried red chilli flakes, fresh herbs to “cleanse” the palate, olive oil and the secret ingredient, pomegranate molasses, which provides the necessary acidity and tang that blends and balances all the other flavors.

You need to try it. This is a main course, but it fits very nicely as an accompaniment to various meat dishes that are cooked on the grill or the bbq, or it can be served as a meze dish together with a cold beer.

See you again soon! I have so many recipes to share with you.

Grilled (or pan-fried) halloumi with a cherry tomato, cherry and pomegranate molasses salsa

Some people don’t like halloumi because of its squeaky texture. Well, the secret to halloumi is that it needs to be eaten while still hot/warm and freshly cooked. If it cools down, then it becomes rubbery.

I’ve made this salsa before with watermelon, peaches or plums cut into small pieces instead of cherries and it was great. I’ve also made it with pomegranate seeds. So, you can substitute the cherries with any one of these fruits if cherry season is over where you live, and by using pomegranate seeds, you can make this salsa even during the winter.

Don’t make the salsa ahead of time but only before you start grilling the halloumi. If it sits, then it loses its freshness and you definitely need the fruits to be crisp and the herbs lively and fresh.

Yield: 6 servings (for light lunch or side dish)


for the salsa
150 g cherry tomatoes (about 13), cut in half
½ red onion, sliced
7-8 dark sweet cherries, pits removed, cut in half
A handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (see here to make your own)
1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, 3-4 grinds of the pepper mill

for the halloumi
500 g halloumi, cut into ½ cm-thick slices
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


for the salsa
In a medium-sized bowl, add all the ingredients for the salsa and mix together gently.
Set the salsa aside. Don’t make it ahead, but only just before you cook the cheese, so it stays fresh and crisp.

for the halloumi
In a griddle/grill pan or a frying pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, lower heat to medium and add the cheese. Fry it for 2 minutes on each side, or until it has softened and has taken on a golden color on the outside.
Remove it from the pan and place it on absorbent kitchen paper.

serve the dish
On a large plate, arrange the slices of cooked halloumi and top with the salsa.
Serve immediately.


  1. Sounds so different with the addition of the cherries. Just saw halloumi in the store here for the first time! It only took several decades...

    1. Lol! It's such a great cheese. A bit misunderstood because of its squeaky texture but it's all about eating it straight away after you cook it. It's so tender then. Thanks David.