RECIPE: Fried halloumi makes cheese-for-dinner feel fancy

Fried Halloumi with Winter Squash. (Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Fried Halloumi with Winter Squash. (Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Eating cheese for dinner is something I don’t do often enough. It makes for a versatile meal — cheese pairings are seemingly infinite — and is equally satisfying whether you serve standard grocery store cheddar with grapes and crackers or muster enough energy to make an elaborate multi-cheese platter, complete with dips and spreads.

This week’s recipe is somewhere in between. Cut into thick slabs, pan-fried in olive oil and eaten with a fork and a knife, halloumi makes cheese-for-dinner feel even more like a complete meal. I pair it with thin slivers of butternut squash, which I cook under the broiler while frying the cheese. (To make it quick to prep the squash, buy a specimen with a long neck. Use the neck for this recipe, and don’t even bother peeling it. Save the seed-filled bottom for another use.)

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To further develop flavor in the dish, I quickly fry walnuts in olive oil before using that same oil to fry the cheese. You’ll get nuttiness in every bite. For an herbaceous fall punch, I scatter the finished dish with chopped fresh sage. The zest and juice of a large lemon bring a final note of freshness and acidity.

The final dish looks dinner-party worthy — indeed, you could serve it as part of a Thanksgiving spread— but is comforting enough to satisfy that cheese-for-dinner itch.

Fried Halloumi with Winter Squash
  • 1 1/4 pounds butternut squash, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided), plus more for drizzling
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 12 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slabs and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 large lemon
  • On the side: Mixed green salad
  • Heat the broiler to high with the rack in the highest position.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Spread in an even layer. Broil, rotating the baking sheet every 5 minutes, until tender and well browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 more tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving all of the oil behind in the skillet.
  • Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the halloumi and cook, reducing the heat if needed, until deeply browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
  • When the squash is finished, transfer to the platter with the halloumi. Top with fried walnuts and sage. Zest the lemon over the top. Cut the lemon in half and juice over the dish. Drizzle with a little additional olive oil and serve. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 665 calories (percent of calories from fat, 71), 25 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 54 grams total fat (16 grams saturated), 67 milligrams cholesterol, 850 milligrams sodium.
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