A friend recently mentioned to me that she had been cooking halloumi; I thought either she had a cold or she had found some kind of unusual fish. It turned out neither was the case: Halloumi is a cheese from Cyprus and is now becoming easier to find in American markets. It’s a stretched-curd cheese, like mozzarella, but what sets this cheese apart is that it doesn’t melt, so it can be baked, broiled, fried, and even grilled, making it a quick option for lunch or dinner on the run.
Halloumi is salty, with a flavor somewhere between that of mozzarella and feta (plus a touch of mint, which many producers add) and an unusual texture: Cooked and then cooled, it squeaks between your teeth, but when hot and soft, it’s pliant and delicious. Its browned crust is perfect for those of us whose favorite part of a grilled cheese sandwich is the crisp bit that has escaped from between the bread slices. I use halloumi to top baked potatoes, with steamed broccoli and lemon wedges on the side; cubed and browned in a dry skillet, as croutons on a salad of roasted beets and arugula; or on a quick dish of couscous and greens.