Today is the next installment of Food Network’s #ComfortFoodFeast and we are celebrating the classic grilled cheese sandwich. When I want a fast, healthy lunch, it is one of the first things I think of. When the weather turns cold I always add a cup of soup, usually the standard and soothing tomato.
Instead of the typical American or cheddar cheese, I thought I would try something a little different. Have you heard of Halloumi cheese? The pride of Cyprus, Halloumi is an unripened, semi-hard cheese with a texture that is a cross between mozzarella and ricotta salata. It can be made from sheep, goat, cow’s milk or a combination of any of them. It is Cyprus’ major cheese export product.
The most interesting aspect of Halloumi is that it holds its shape when heated and does not melt. The outside becomes golden brown and a little crispy while the inside softens. This makes it perfect for grilling and why I thought it would be a fun change of pace for today’s comfort food celebration.
Because the Halloumi is stored in brine, you definitely want something to cut the saltiness. Fresh lemon juice and sweet honey are the two most popular accompaniments to this cheese. If stone fruits are in season, they would be wonderful with it too.
The package directions said to fry the cheese with its brine, but it was too salty for The Artist’s taste. Next time I will rinse it off and then fry or grill it. The smoke of a barbecue would also add a delightful accent to the fairly neutral flavor.
The next time you are thinking of grilled cheese sandwiches or are having a party and want a different appetizer, try some Halloumi cheese. You might just be transported to the Mediterranean!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make sure you use a very sharp serrated knife to slice the bread. If your knife is dull, you will compress the loaf making the slices very narrow and hard to use as a base for the cheese.
If you don’t make your own gluten-free French baguettes or have a local baker that does, I recommend you buy Schar’s brand. It is remarkably good and extremely easy to prepare. All you have to do is pop it in the oven for about 5 minutes and it is ready to eat.
Open-Faced Grilled Halloumi Cheese Sandwich
© 2013 Jane Evans Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Yield: about 4 appetizer servings
1 French bread baguette (or Schar’s gluten-free baguettes)
1 to 2 blocks of Halloumi cheese, approx. 9 oz (250g) each
Using a serrated knife, cut the baguette into 1/2-inch slices on the bias (slight diagonal angle). Slice the cheese into 1/4-inch-thick pieces and if needed, cut each in half. You want pieces about the same size as the baguette slices.
Slice lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Strain out the seeds.
Place a griddle over medium-high heat. Set a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Lightly butter one cut side of each slice of bread and set buttered side down on the griddle. Carefully butter the second side of each piece. Cook until golden brown on the first side, then flip to grill the second side. When both sides are toasted, move the bread to a warmed platter and keep warm in a low oven.
Place the cheese slices in the skillet and cook until golden on the first side, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle lightly with a little of the lemon juice. Use tongs and carefully flip them to the second side. Continue cooking until golden on the second side and sprinkle again with remaining lemon juice.
Place the cheese slices on the warm grilled bread, sprinkle the tops with oregano and serve immediately.
Check out these other Grilled Cheese recipes from my friends:
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Grilled Cheese With Kale Artichoke Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Cooking With Elise: Inside-Out Grilled Cheese With Bacon
Red or Green?: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Red or Green-Style
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
Weelicious: Kentucky Hot Brown Panini
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Cheddar, Apple and Arugula Sandwich
The Sensitive Epicure: Individual Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese (Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free)
Devour: Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese
Thursday Night Dinner: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Muhammara Grilled Cheese
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Jarlsberg and Black Forest Ham With a Surprise
Feed Me Phoebe: Mexi Grilled Cheese With Avocado, Pepper Jack and Refried Black Beans
FN Dish: Grilled Cheese Goes Beyond Cheese
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