Halloumi Fries for a Warm Cheese Delight

By JeanMarie Brownson | March 27th, 2024

Fried cheese recipe plus a meatless dish of savory flavors


halloumi cheese on a cutting board, used with recipe for halloumi fries. Image by Picture Partners

Enjoy the delights of warm cheese with crispy halloumi fries served over a tasty Mediterranean-influenced salad.


Warm cheese deserves all the love. From the pull of mozzarella on pizza, to molten cheese fondue, to the buttery goodness of queso fundido piled on a tortilla, few foods prove more satisfying. Light it on fire at one of Chicago’s iconic Greek restaurants and everyone thrills.

Grilled halloumi cheese first came on our radar a few years ago in London. There, we dined on a warm and satisfying meatless grilled halloumi wrap at a stand in the multicultural Borough Market. Halloumi, a fresh white cheese from Cyprus made from goat and sheep’s milk, sports a lovely milky-salty flavor. The firm, low-fat cheese has a high melting point, perfect for grilling and frying as it sears, but doesn’t really melt. When hot, halloumi has a pleasing bouncy texture.

In recent years, the imported cheese has gained in popularity in the United States. Domestic halloumi and cow’s milk versions often are available as well. Look for halloumi in supermarkets with a large cheese section or in Mediterranean grocery stores. Substitutes include Mexican-style queso panela and Indian paneer cheese as these warm easily without really melting.

Cut into thick sticks, halloumi fries add a lean protein element to salads and as an accompaniment to bowls of soup. Served warm or at room temperature, they satisfy mightily with a dip such as yogurt-based tzatziki or as a snack with a piece of fruit.

For a meatless dinner, serve this hearty chickpea and tomato dish topped with dollops of spicy Middle Eastern zhoug sauce and a pile of crispy halloumi fries. Be sure to serve slices of crusty bread to mop up all the delicious pan juices.

Crispy Halloumi Fries

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 block, 8 to 10 ounces halloumi cheese, queso panela, or paneer cheese
  • Vegetable oil for high-heat cooking, such as expeller-pressed canola, safflower or sunflower oil
  • Tzatziki sauce, for dipping, optional
  • Hot red pepper sauce, optional

Directions:

  1. Pat the cheese dry. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut the slices into 1/2-inch sticks. Pat dry again.
  2. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Have a paper towel-lined baking sheet ready.
  3. Pour oil into a medium-size nonstick skillet to a depth of 1/8-inch. Heat over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add a few halloumi cheese sticks at a time and fry, turning regularly, until golden all over, 1 or 2 minutes (don’t walk away as cheese cooks quickly). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Keep warm in the oven. Fry the remaining cheese sticks. Enjoy while warm with tzatziki or a few drops of hot sauce.

Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Crispy Halloumi Fries

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Cut into thick sticks, halloumi fries add a lean protein element to salads.
Cut into thick sticks, halloumi fries add a lean protein element to salads.

Note: Choose spicy zhoug sauce, made from herbs, lemon, garlic and hot chiles, or mild and creamy tzatziki sauce, for finishing the final dish. Look for both sauces in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s or other specialty grocery stores.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinny carrots, (about 12 ounces total), peeled, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: cayenne, black pepper
  • Pinch or two of saffron threads, optional
  • 1 can (29 ounces) chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Crispy halloumi fries, see recipe
  • About 4 cups fresh baby spinach (about 1/2 of a 6-ounce)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup refrigerated Spicy zhoug sauce or tzatziki sauce
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put carrots, onion and 2 tablespoons of the oil onto a large baking sheet. Roast, stirring often, until nearly tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a small dish, mix remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the vinegar, salt, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, pepper and saffron until salt is dissolved. Stir mixture into carrots. Stir in chickpeas and tomatoes.
  3. Roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the Crispy halloumi fries.
  4. Stir spinach into the hot chick pea mixture to wilt it slightly. Pile mixture into shallow serving bowls. Top with pan juices. Top with Crispy halloumi fries. Garnish with dollops of zhoug sauce and cilantro.

JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel, and dining for more than four decades.

©2024 JeanMarie Brownson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Also from JeanMarie Brownson, this recipe for a satisfying meatless burger. Really!

More recipes: DIY ricotta cheese and artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese flatbreads

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