I love halloumi for its squeaking rubberiness, and because it is much more forgiving to cook than feta, even though it still has a similar saline hit. It seems to last forever in the fridge, so with a package of halloumi in one hand and a collection of herbs in the other, there's the makings of a memorable starter – warm slices of cheese draped in earthy chermoula, a North African dressing.
Servings: 4 to 6
1 fresh red chile, seeded, if desired, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled and left whole
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1 cup (25 g) fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup (25 g) fresh cilantro, chopped
Grated zest and juice from 1/2 lemon, wedges from 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (455 g) halloumi, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) slices
In a large, well-seasoned cast-iron pan or heavy non-stick skillet over medium heat, dry-roast the chile and garlic until toasted on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. In the same pan, toast the coriander and cumin until fragrant, stirring often. It should take about a minute. Process the spices in a grinder or mortar and pestle, then transfer to a medium bowl with the paprika. Pile the herbs, garlic, chile, and lemon zest on a board and chop into fine flecks. Rake the mix into the bowl with the spices. Stir in the oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Wipe out the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Fry the halloumi in the dry skillet, in batches if needed, until golden, a minute or so on each side. As they’re ready, add the pieces to the halloumi. Once all the halloumi is golden and bathed, tip everything out onto a serving plate, being sure to rescue any sauce that lingers in the bowl. Tuck the lemon wedges in and around the cheese. Serve.
Excerpted from Seven Spoons: My Favourite Recipes For Any and Every Day. Copyright © 2015 Tara O’Brady. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.