Valentine’s Day Dinner – Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa’tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis
Let me apologies for the radio silence over the last week or so. I’ve been so busy with different things from dealing with projects regarding this blog, FBC and then a last minute trip to Dubai to help with preparations for my cousin’s upcoming wedding in Rome. February is going to be a very crazy month. But, I’m not complaining…I’d much prefer to be busy!
Valentine’s Day is a couple of weeks away and I thought I’d offer you a three-course, Lebanese influenced menu for two. We will start with the first course.
Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese that is also popular around Lebanon and the Middle-East (Note: Cyprus is an island that is about 129 miles/208 km from Lebanon). Halloumi cheese is traditionally made from a mixture of sheep’s & goat’s milk, is salty and has a texture similar to mozzarella. What’s unique about this cheese is that it has a high melting point making it ideal for grilling or frying. Update: Upon further conversation with Peter of Kalofogas, it has been brought to my attention that the Cypriot Halloumi (with a capital H) is a PDO product (Protected Designation of Origin).
I’ve always loved the addition of Zaa’tar to Halloumi. Zaa’tar is a savoury blend of herbs and spices typically including dried wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. It has an earthy & pungent flavor. In Lebanon and around the Middle East, Zaa’tar is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast with a variety of cheese or spread onto breakfast pizzas (Manakeesh) which are also popularly consumed throughout the day, especially after a long night out when one needs to soak up excess alcohol!
This dish is great made ahead of time, you’ll just need to grill the Halloumi cheese just before serving.