Grilled Halloumi With a Fig-Ouzo Sauce

img_5752The first time I ever tasted Halloumi cheese was when friends of the family (part Cypriot) gave us some. Here in Toronto, we have a good-sized Greek community with approx. 130,000 Greeks living in the area, about fifteen churches, hundreds of associations and federations representing towns & villages from all over Greece and Cyprus and of course, the Hellenes who come from all parts of Greece and Cyprus.

I find this cross-section of Greek society to be beneficial. One gets a sense of regional customs. dishes and in this case, ingredients. Halloumi cheese comes to us from Cyprus. Although it’s produced and enjoyed in other countries in the Mid-East, it’s comes to the Greek table via Cyprus and in the end, here on my site.

Halloumi cheese is a made from goat or sheep’s milk and on occasion cow’s milk in thrown into the mix. It’s a firm cheese that holds up well to heat, ideal for frying, broiling or in this case, grilling.

Halloumi is mildly briny and upon opening a package, one gets the slight aroma and taste of mint that’s used as a flavouring. Halloumi is most often used in savory cooking but it’s also makes for a fine base for a cheese or dessert coarse.

Today I’m grilling Halloumi cheese. I’m pairing it with two other ubiquitous Greek ingredients – figs and the Greek aperitif, Ouzo. This dish can be enjoyed all year ’round as dried figs are used and as for Ouzo, it’s become so popular that with a little searching, my readers seem to find it at their local liquor stores, waiting to be purchased in the liqueur section of the store.

Ouzo is primarily flavoured by anise, so if you’re hatin’ on licorice flavours – move on. If you’re a fan of anise, fennel, licorice….stick around – this dessert’s for you.img_5745-1

The fig-ouzo sauce comes from the book “New Greek Cuisine”, written by Aristedes Pasparakis and my old friend, Byron Ayanoglu. Byron has written plays and numerous books (food and non-food related) and some of you might have seen him accompanying Anthony Bourdain on his visit to Crete on No Reservations.

The recipe for this sauce will more than suffice for your grilled Halloumi needs but don’t despair, this sauce will vanish when you try on some strained Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream or a fresh goat cheese.

Halloumi holds up to heat wonderfully. Just ensure you grill is pre-heated to a medium heat and you grill each side for no more than 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.img_5747-1

Grilled Halloumi With a Fig-Ouzo Sauce

Fig Ouzo-Sauce

1 cup boiling water

15 dried figs (preferably Greek), cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Ouzo

+ Halloumi cheese

  1. Pour the boiling water over the dried figs and allow to steep for about 10 minutes (cover).
  2. Transfer 3-4 of the  soaked figs to a processor and pulse until a saucy but gritty consistency. Transfer blended figs to a saucepan along with the honey and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Now add the remaining figs and simmer for another 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the figs are tender.
  4. Add the Ouzo, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook while stirring for a couple of minutes. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and allow to cool.
  5. Carefully cut two slices of Halloumi cheese (per dessert serving). Brush with olive oil and pre-heat your grill to a medium heat. Grill your Halloumi for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side.
  6. Plate your grilled Halloumi slices and spoon over a ribbon of Fig-Ouzo sauce accross the cheese. Garnish with fresh mint and serve.

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55 Comments for “Grilled Halloumi With a Fig-Ouzo Sauce”

says:

I am here to lend my support to everything licorice.

Never had hallumi cheese but I have added it to my shopping list.

You would also be surprised how hard it is to find ouzo around here. Heck I am sure I could find a ton of illegal drugs before ouzo.

Nicely done and love the grill marks on that cheese!

says:

I love this type of recipe. All the ingredients appeal to me. I’m a big fan of hallumi cheese and use it as a warm addition to our salads. I’ll have to try this.

says:

Oh! I do love this flavour combo! I’m all for aniseed! This is a def winner in my books…hmm, would make a great ending to a meal. Funnily enough I just picked up a bottle of ouzo duty free.

says:

Sounds fabulous Peter. I haven’t grilled cheese before, look forward to trying it. The grill marks on your cheese look so perfect.
LL

says:

Once we saw in a TV show a recipe for grilling Halloumi cheese and my daughte rhas been going on saying when i was going to make them.
These look so yumm.

says:

I love grilled halloumi. It is kind of scarce here, and what I do find is usually wrapped in plastic and requires a 2nd mortgage on my house to purchase!

Serving it with that fig sauce is brilliant! I may have to break down and buy some halloumi just to try it!

says:

Oh no, I’m one of them licorice haters!!!But I’m thinking I can make this with port or even some red ice wine and it would be tasty too. I love figs and halloumi so much, I cannot let the licorice get in the way of enjoying this dish!

says:

Wow…now this is a dessert I would not say no to (no matter how many calories). I love it! Didn’t realize mint was used to make hallumi.

says:

Figs and halloumi pair well together. I’ve posted a similar recipe only instead of ouzo I used orange liqueur.

says:

This is a beautiful dish, Peter! (as if anything else would come out of your kitchen!) I love the anise flavor going on here so this would be a hit with me. I am looking forward to fresh fig season here. They usually hit around late August and into September. Yay!

says:

I keep looking at Halloumi in stores and never buy it. I should now because with your recipe I would know what to do with it. Nice presentation.

says:

Baked Feta and now grilled delicious cheese! You are killing me. I will have to look for this kind of cheese at my next cheese adventure.

says:

My husband would LOVE this. I would, too, but he would really flip. Looks like I’ll have to make it some time soon!

says:

Love FIGS & have been wanting to try out Halloumi cheese – it has been all over the UK Food and Travel magazine as well as Donna Hay – getting me some now!!

says:

The fig ouzo sounds out of the world.

the blue of the water in your previous post is the prettiest blue i have ever seen.

says:

I love grilled halloumi, thanks to you! But I have to say it isn’t cheap! I piece, $12.00 at Whole Foods!! Crazy expensive!

says:

This is stepping up the Halloumi a notch Peter. The fig sauce would make an incredible accompaniment with a glass of ouzo on the side as well:D

Lilika

says:

Grilled or fried Halloumi is divine…. And the ouzo sauce w/ figs? Superb idea… As I write now my fig tree in my California back yard is showing a very promising crop. Suppose I could make this w/ fresh figs as well (w/ a bit of tweaking…) I LOVE ouzo, and occasionally I cook with it too! Stin ygeia sas!

says:

Squeaky halloumi – yay!

I love its no-holds-barred saltiness, and the way it just gets better when you grill or fry it.

And fig and ouzo sauce – that’s a new one on me…

says:

I love the combo of figs and cheese… but I’ve never tried halloumi! I’ve heard a lot about it, but here in Paris, you would have to head to a Greek specialty store to get it. Now that it’s grilling season, it might be time for me to make the trek…

says:

while i was on tour in Spain a coupla years ago, all i snacked on were figs! they were great and super fresh; so this pairing is great. and until i’m able to go to Greece, I’ll visit in my dreams through ur food!

says:

Figs and cheese are a great combo. I’ve been coming around to figs a lot in the past year.

Halloumi is one of those things still on my to-try list. Cheese, as we all know, is sadly not all that welcome in my home, so it’s one of those things I need to either be a hog about, or serve to company. I think if I find some halloumi, I’ll just be a pig!

I love everything about this combo. I’ve never had ouzo either, but I’m guessing it’s similar to Sambuca (or that really strong anise stuff they drink in Colombia). I think it would be awesome with figs and of course, as I said above, is a perfect compliment to cheese.

says:

Peter – you’re killing me here. I can’t get Haloumi anymore. I found a recipe to make a somewhat similar cheese, so I’m going to have to give it a try.

says:

I had a homemade goat cheese with chive flowers that was very close to halloumi in flavor- she tells me it’s really easy to make. I’m going to try, and get hold of some figs as well…

says:

I’ve always enjoyed grilled halloumi by itself and it never occurred to me to serve it with anything else. Fantastic idea and recipe.

says:

Peter,

I hate ouzo and the aniseed flavour of it, but I love halloumi. What an interesting change from bacon or lountza.

I tried it and I love it.

Best Wishes

Jackie