Halloumi recipes

A firm, slightly springy white cheese from Cyprus, traditionally made with sheeps’ milk, although these days mass-produced varieties often use cows’ milk.

In texture, halloumi is similar to a firm mozzarella, making it a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. Unlike mozzarella, however, it has a strong salty flavour, particularly when preserved in brine.

Quinoa and halloumi burger

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These tasty vegetarian burgers use quinoa and halloumi for a healthier alternative to meat or takeaways.

Each burger provides 122 kcal, 6.5g protein, 11g carbohydrate (of which 1.3g sugars), 6g fat (of which 3.5g saturates), 0.5g fibre and 0.5g salt.

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz quinoa
  • 250ml/9fl oz vegetable stock or water
  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp gram flour
  • 3 tsp dried oregano or thyme
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (or chopped fresh chilli, to taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 225g/8oz halloumi, diced
  • 1 tbsp ghee, for frying
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Put the quinoa in a bowl and cover with approximately 500ml/18fl oz cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Set aside to soak overnight (or for at least 8 hours). Drain well.

  2. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa, stir once, then simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and drain well. Set aside to cool.

  3. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, gram flour, herbs, chilli, and garlic until smooth and well combined. Stir in the spring onions, halloumi and quinoa. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little more gram flour or water if needed.

  5. Shape the burger mixture into 16 equal-shaped patties in your hands.

  6. Heat the ghee in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the fat is smoking, add the burger patties, shape with a spoon in the pan. You may need to do this in batches. Fry for 3-4 minutes, or until a golden-brown crust forms, then gently flip with a spatula and fry the other side.

  7. Transfer the fried burgers to a roasting tray. When all of the burgers have been fried, cook them in the oven for a further 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through.

  8. Serve with a green salad with red onion and avocado.

Recipe Tips

Tip 1: If you don’t have time to soak the quinoa, wash it thoroughly under cold running water, then cook according to the packet instructions.

Tip 2: Instead of frying the burgers, you can arrange them onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm and golden-brown.

Tip 3: To check the seasoning of the burgers, fry a tablespoonful of the mixture before shaping it into patties, then season the main mixture accordingly.

Buyer’s guide

The best halloumi is made from sheeps’ milk, and will come from Cyprus, although these days you can even find varieties made in Britain.

Storage

Halloumi will keep in the fridge for many months if left in its original packaging, complete with brine or whey. Once opened, submerge in salt water and refrigerate.

Preparation

In the Middle East, halloumi is usually fried or grilled to take advantage of its high melting point. Although halloumi can be eaten straight from the packet, some chefs recommend soaking it in buttermilk for a day or two before preparing, to give it a richer, less salty flavour.

Article by Felicity Cloake

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