halloumi and vegetable skewers
Mon, 5 October, 2020
Halloumi is the squeaky cheese, the salvation for a vegetarian at a BBQ party. Skewer it with tomatoes, mushrooms, onion and maybe even grapes for delicious meat-free kebabs.
Eating out inspires
I draw a lot of inspiration from eating out. I love it: there’s enormous fun in having things cooked for you (I say it as a cook) from ingredients that might not be readily available or affordable to me, cooked with the skill I don’t possess and the tools I have no space for. And the best thing is no washing up.
But much as it’s great to consume a dish that blows your taste buds away, I also love going back home to think how to replicate the flavours. Sometimes, of course, I ask the waiter or the chef but it’s not possible all the time – and anyway asking for a recipe simply is bad form. So more frequently I tinker, stir and taste, try and err.
My copycat dishes
Lots of good dishes in these pages have been inspired by a good meal out: the prawn and tomato stew, the smoked salmon with melon and the elaborate creation which is dome cake. This dish, halloumi and vegetable skewers is almost one of those recipes. Except it’s inspired by the restaurant dish I didn’t have.
Halloumi and vegetable backstory
On that night we both spent forever over the menu deliberating on skewers or nachos, skewers or tuna tartare, respectively. We both fancied the skewers but somehow neither of us got them – which on the way back home made them seem the most desirable dish on the planet.
I made my own version, not having a clue what chef Matthew’s recipe was. But really, can you go wrong with halloumi? Of course you can’t.
How to cook halloumi skewers?
The skewers can be barbecued, just take care not to lose the halloumi in the fire; it tends to escape the skewer as it softens. I prefer to cook these in the oven, with grill function on and skewers laid on a shallow baking tray set right under the grill.
Marinade for halloumi skewers
I lifted the marinade idea off Serious Eats and it’s great – and the cheese and the veg must be soused in it to soak up the flavour. The choice of vegetables is yours, as long as you stick to there being a pepper, an onion and some mushrooms.
You could also turn it on its head, skewer alternately cheese and grapes, swap garlic for honey and there’s a barbecue version of cheese and grapes, for dessert or a snack.
halloumi and vegetable skewersServings: makes 6 kebabsTime: 30 minutes plus marinating
- For the marinade:
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 4 tbsp. (¼ cup) olive oil
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 3 sprigs fresh mint
- For the skewers (soak wooden skewers in cold water before preparing):
- 250g (9 oz.) halloumi cheese
- 2 medium peppers, red and yellow or green
- 1 small white onion
- 10-12 button mushrooms
- 12-14 cherry tomatoes
- a few small broccoli and cauliflower florets
- a handful of grapes
- salt and black pepper
- To serve:
- 250ml (1 cup) Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ bunch fresh dill
1. Peel the garlic and mash it with the salt. Place in a large bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and oregano. Strip the mint leaves and chop very finely. Add to the marinade and whisk to emulsify.
2. Drain the halloumi and pat dry. Cut it into 2.5cm/1-inch dice. Core the peppers and cut them in pieces similar size. Peel the onion and cut it into the same size chunks. Add to the bowl with the marinade, plus the mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and grapes. Toss in the marinade and leave for 30 minutes at room temperature.
3. For the yoghurt dip, stir the salt, honey and mustard into the yoghurt in a bowl. Chop the dill finely and add it to the dip.
4. Preheat the oven grill to medium (or fire up the barbecue with a clean and oiled grill).
5. Thread the vegetables and halloumi onto the skewers and place on a baking tray; reserve the marinade left in the bowl. Season the skewers with salt and pepper.
6. Place the baking tray high under the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the skewers over carefully and drizzle with remaining marinade. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until nicely charred all round and the cheese id browned and melting.
7. Serve immediately with the yoghurt dip on the side.