Have you tried halloumi yet?
If you live in London, the answer is probably a resounding “DUH!” because it is on every gastropub’s menu in some form here. But obviously, not everyone who reads this blog lives in London and what I’m hearing is that it can be harder to track down in some parts of the world. (But you should try!)
It hails from Cyprus but is also popular in Turkish and Lebanese cuisine, and, more recently, the aforementioned British pubs, where a nice slab of halloumi is often used as a vegetarian burger.
It’s a super salty non-melting cheese made from goats and/or sheep’s milk, commonly described as “squeaky”
A very strange adjective to describe food, but sort of accurate.
And halloumi sits beautifully in places where chicken otherwise might have, so I’ve been seeing halloumi caesar salads popping up on menus from time to time.
And I have been very, very interested.
Adding a very salty cheese to a very salty, briny dressing like caesar could be overkill if you’re not careful though. So by using a nice cool greek yogurt as a base, and adding a handful of crunchy spiralized cucumber, we’re keeping things in check.
This greek yogurt caesar dressing is anchovy-free (because, hi! vegetarian blog right here!) so to make up for the lack of salty, briny anchovy, I’ve subbed capers. And also… surprise!… green olives! They add a little olive-y kick for extra Greek-ness in this bowl. I think it works, but if you’re skeptical, no problemo! Just throw in some more capers, or some anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce.
And seriously, the cucumber works really well next to the halloumi. No need to be skeptical about that part.
I’m not entirely sure why I included that photo of the frying pan croutons, because it only demonstrates my inadequacy at making non-burnt croutons. Try not to burn you croutons, folks. <— Try to take your own advice, Christine.
If tomorrow you go out looking for this mysterious squeaky cheese, and find that halloumi is in short supply where you live, here’s what you can do. Either make your own (why not!), or use whatever non-melting cheese you have available to you, like Farmers Cheese or paneer. And add a little salt when it’s roasting!
- 2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped, rinsed and patted dry
- About ½ of a baguette, or 2-3 hot dog rolls, chopped into small chunks
- A couple handfuls of grated parmesan (or a vegetarian Italian hard cheese)
- About 400g / 14oz of halloumi, cut into 8 slices (2 per serving)
- ⅓ cup of greek yogurt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tblsps of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tblsps of capers
- 5 green olives, pitted
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 heaping Tblsps of parmesan (or vegetarian Italian hard cheese)
- First, make your dressing by blending all ingredients in a food processor, or using an immersion blender in a tall jug. Refrigerate.
- Chop your baguette or hot dog rolls into chunks, whatever size you'd like your croutons to be.
- Pan fry in olive oil until golden and crisp, tossing regularly in the pan to cook on each side.
- Cut your halloumi into 4 long slices. Brush each side with olive oil and grill on a high heat for 5 to 7 minutes on each side (this really depends on your oven so just keep a close eye on it- you want it to crisp up and brown, but not burn)
- Toss the lettuce, croutons and dressing in a large bowl and toss to distribute the dressing evenly.
- Scoop out the salad into bowls. Top with halloumi, a handful each of spiralized cucumber, and grated parmesan cheese.
If you love Caesar salads, you should also try my vegan caesar salad with avocado and garlic croutons!