Need a Vegetarian Option for Your Memorial Day Barbecue?
What are you grilling this weekend? We traditionally do hamburgers; however, because of the vegetarians in my family, I am always looking for an alternative to prepare for them. Have you tried Halloumi Burgers? They are delicious and super simple to make!
Halloumi cheese has been around a long time, but it is a recent edition to my cooking repertoire. The birthplace of this delicious cheese is the tiny Mediterranean island country of Cyprus. It is a semi-hard, pasteurized, and brined cheese made with sheep’s and goat’s milk; although more recently, some producers have started adding cow’s milk.
This cheese is Cyprus’ most well-known export. I find it interesting that on March 30, 2021, the European Union recognized halloumi as a product unique to Cyprus and awarded it a “Protected Designation of Origin” status, meaning that halloumi can only be produced in Cyprus under specific guidelines and no other product can be marketed as halloumi cheese within EU borders.
Halloumi is an unripened cheese that is white in color with a salty, slightly tangy flavor and a slightly firm, spongy texture. When raw, it has an elastic, firm feel; but when cooked, it becomes soft and creamy. It can be eaten raw or cooked. During the summer, Cypriots eat it raw for breakfast along with watermelon. They also use it as a grating cheese and serve it over pasta. You can barbecue or grill halloumi, cook it in a griddle pan, or place it under the broiler, which makes it a popular meat substitute. It is a good source of protein and calcium.
It is packed in a salty brine so some may find it too salty. You can reduce its saltiness by rinsing it under cold water and patting it dry with paper towels or a cloth. To further reduce its salty flavor, halloumi can be soaked in cold water up to 1 hour before drying. If you are looking for an alternative for your vegetarians, give halloumi burgers a try. Or just make them instead of beef burgers. As I said, they are delicious! My best wishes for a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend!
Halloumi Burgers with a Greek Yogurt Mint Sauce Serves 2
For the burgers: 1 package (8-ounces) halloumi cheese 2 brioche buns Lettuce leaves 2 tomato slices Red onion slices Greek yogurt sauce
For the Greek yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 tablespoon lemon juice ½ teaspoon ground cumin ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste ¼ teaspoon large grind black pepper, or to taste In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mint, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the buns: Cooking spray 2 brioche buns Spray a large heavy skillet with cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Place buns insides down in the skillet and toast to desired doneness.
For the halloumi:
1 package (8-ounces) halloumi cheese Flour for flouring halloumi Extra virgin olive oil for frying Using a sharp knife, cut halloumi in half down the center so you have chunks of cheese about the size of a bun. Cut each block into 1/3 to ½-inch slices. Place flour on a plate. Dip each piece of halloumi in flour, covering both sides. In a large heavy skillet, place ¼-inch olive oil over a medium high heat. When oil sizzles, add halloumi slices and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until halloumi is golden brown. Try not to move halloumi around in the pan because it won’t brown as nicely. To assemble burgers: Place bottom of bun on a plate. Top with lettuce leaf, halloumi slices, tomato slices, onion slices, and Greek yogurt sauce. Place remaining half of bun on top. Enjoy! Tips on storing halloumi: If unopened, halloumi will keep one year in the refrigerator. Once opened, halloumi will keep 2 weeks if refrigerated and placed in an airtight container. Tips on freezing halloumi: Halloumi cheese can be frozen for up to 6 months. If it is not in its original package, wrap it in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. To thaw, place halloumi in the refrigerator overnight.
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
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