Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, Halloumi & Basil

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With regards to my tastes, I often find Feta and Halloumi cheeses competing for my attention in the kitchen. When the call for Greek cheeses is made, I often answer with either Feta or Halloumi. Feta cheese is made from either sheep or goat’s milk (or a combo of both). Have you ever read the labels of the Feta cheese you’re buying? What kind of milk is used, where is it made? The only true Feta is made in Greece – it’s what I use in my cooking and I hope you do too!

Halloumi cheese comes from the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean and it’s made of sheep or goat’s milk as well. Halloumi has a texture similar to the grocery store type of Mozzarella, it’s package in some brine with dry mint and it’s often called the ‘squeaky cheese’ from the sound it makes when you chew it!

I love both cheeses and up until now, never thought of to combine both in a recipe – the results are a delicious surprise. Halloumi cheese does hold up well to heat but it does eventually melt. Here, I want Halloumi to melt to a gooey, creamy consistency that makes make this sauce a textural delight. The Feta cheese used here was made of goat’s milk and therefor there’s a little bit of tang and I’ve also added some Greek yogurt into the mix.

The tomatoes used here are cherry tomatoes, which I chose as they are consistently sweet all year ’round and they add even more texture to the dish. The herb of choice here is fresh basil or “vasillikos” in Greek – the king of herbs. Add the basil into the sauce at the very end when you’re tossing in the pasta and watch as these simple ingredients transform into a creamy, gooey sauce without any aid from cream.

Finally, use salt sparingly in this dish. I added just a touch to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes and the rest comes from both the Halloumi and Feta cheeses.

Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, Halloumi & Basil (Χυλοπίτες με Ντοματίνια, Φέτα, Χαλούμι & Βασιλικό)

(serves 4)

500 gr. of broad egg noodles

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups of very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

6-7 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of diced Halloumi cheese

1 cup of Feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (chiffonade)

1 tsp. chilli flakes

crumbled cheese for topping

fresh ground pepper

salt to taste

  1. Place a large pot of water to boil. Add salt to the water and when the water returns to a boil, add your pasta and cook according to packet instructions. In the meantime, rinse your tomatoes and cut in half. Place a large skillet (or pot) on your stove-top over medium heat and add the olive oil and tomatoes and stir. Add a bit of salt and cover for a minute to help sweat the tomatoes. Uncover and if you wish, squish the tomatoes a bit to release more of their juices and add garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Reserve.
  2. In a bowl, add the crumbled Feta and yogurt and mash with a fork and mix to incorporate. When the pasta has cooked to your liking, strain and reserve some pasta water. Add the pasta into the sauce along with the cubed Halloumi cheese and chopped basil and toss. If too dry, add a little pasta water and continue to toss. Now add the mashed Feta and yogurt along with the Boukovo (chilli flakes) and continue to toss until incorporated and the sauce is creamy.
  3. Divide and portion your pasta, top with fresh ground pepper and some crumbled feta. Serve with Tsantali Halkidiki Red.

 

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© 2007-2011 Peter Minakis

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24 Comments for “Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, Halloumi & Basil”

says:

Εβαλες και φέτα και χαλούμι, έκανες μια σούπερ νόστιμη μακαρονάδα!!!
Καλό Σαββατοκύριακο Peter!
Φιλιά!

says:

What a beautiful, sunny dish. It evokes all the beauty of Greece. I like the plating of the pasta into a mountain shape and both cheeses used in this dish are fantastic!

says:

I absolutely love halloumi — that flavorful saltiness is perfect against the acidity of tomatoes. So, I have little doubt that this pasta is fantastic!

says:

Everything I love on one plate. Halloumi is not as readily available as feta in these parts, but I’ll keep it in mind when I do come across it. Interestingly, although I’ve been eating pasta with Italian cheeses my whole (long) life, I only recently started using feta as an occasional alternative — and I love it, especially when I do a vegetable based pasta.

says:

I have to agree that the authentic feta is one cut above all the others; as for the halloum it is made and consumed in Lebanon and mostly made with cow milk and I prefer the one imported from Cyprus! Great pasta, the tangy cherry tomatoes are such a perfect complement to the creamy cheese and the basil adds just the right herbal touch.

says:

Oh yes, I am with you, tough call on the fetta or the haloumi. I love fetta for its ease, haloumi I find needs to be heated. Love the dish, looks tasty, almost screen lickable. Thanks for sharing. :)

says:

We love halloumi. We grill it on the barbecue. Not sure which I prefer because we eat both cheeses with different foods. Interesting idea to combine the two.
Julia

says:

Yes – I always check the label on Feta – has to be made in Greece! Couldn’t believe it the other day – I saw some ‘Made in Denmark’!!!……what’s all that about? lol
I LOVE both Feta and Halloumi so this dish right up my street!

Merryn

says:

Just love the addition of yoghurt to blend the cheese and tomatoes beautifully through the pasta. Cherry tomatoes grow here all winter (NSW) so we will definitely savour your delicious version with haloumi and (authentic) feta! The plating is gorgeous, mounded pasta with colours and textures erupting from the volcano.

pat

says:

25 degrees in Essex, UK today. I made this dish and it tasted delicious. Creamy and yet fresh. I did have the authentic feta and Cypriot halloumi (plus the Greek yoghurt). No wine though – middle of the week. Thank you for the recipe; it won’t be the last time I make it.

Violetta

says:

Hi Peter,

This dish looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it. However, my husband doesn’t eat yogurt (I know, a Greek who won’t eat tzatziki…yet I still married him!) Would this work if I made a bechamel sauce instead?