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.
Pasta With Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, Halloumi & Basil (Χυλοπίτες με Ντοματίνια, Φέτα, Χαλούμι & Βασιλικό)
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Divide and portion your pasta, top with fresh ground pepper and some crumbled feta. Serve with Tsantali Halkidiki Red.
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