A long time ago when I worked in a corporate environment, my coworkers decided to order lunch from a Greek restaurant. Since I’m a huge fan of Greek food, I quickly forgot about my packed lunch and joined them. The selection varied from moussaka, to gyro, to souvlaki (my favorite Greek dish) but I ended up ordering a salad. I was entering my healthy food journey slowly but surely!
Greek salads are the best, and the one that caught my eye had something called halloumi cheese in it. My coworker explained to me that it was similar to feta and was served warm. I was intrigued and placed an order for one halloumi salad with chicken. Twenty minutes later I have a delicious looking salad with arugula, cucumber, tomato, olives and a lemon vinaigrette. The only thing missing (to my knowledge) was the halloumi! I was pretty upset since the idea of warm cheese excites me more than it should, but I didn’t complain. In fact, the salad was one of the best I’d ever tried.
I told my coworkers how much I was enjoying the salad, especially the chicken, which was uncharacteristically soft, juicy and salty. One of them took a look at my salad and giggled, telling me that tasty chicken I was eating was actually halloumi cheese! This cheese had grill marks and everything! It looked and tasted just like chicken! No wonder I thought they forgot my “feta” cheese, I had no idea what it looked like! Turns out the restaurant forgot my order of chicken, not that I cared at that point. Halloumi is okay in my book.
Since we live in an apartment, we were able to get our hands on a George Foreman grill to achieve those amazing grill marks. A panini press could do the same, or even a pan with grill ridges. The halloumi could also be grilled using a regular pan, you won’t get any grill marks, but the cheese will be grilled and caramelized just fine.
The halloumi turns out crisp and crunchy on the outside, and dense and warm on the inside. It doesn’t ooze like you would expect mozzarella or pepper jack. Certain cheeses, like feta and halloumi, don’t melt very well. It is for this reason, halloumi is nicknamed the “Grilling Cheese”. We found it at Trader Joe’s as well as a local supermarket that carries a variety of different and exotic cheeses.
I was finally able to recreate that halloumi salad that made me forget about chicken! If you’re a vegetarian and sticking to a low carb/keto diet, give halloumi a try in your next salad for some added fat and protein! Of course, if you’re not vegetarian, feel free to add chicken or lamb (both yummy in Greek dishes) to your halloumi salad. Some other great additions to this would be olives, capers or mint. Usually, I’d recommend some orange or pomegranate seeds, but since we’re keeping it low carb, we left those out.
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