Introduction to the Recipe
As a chef, I’ve always been drawn to the richness of Mediterranean cuisine. So, I’m thrilled to introduce you to a staple of Greek cuisine: my Vegetarian Halloumi Souvlaki. This Greek food marvel, bursting with flavour, combines halloumi cheese, balsamic roasted aubergine, and sun-dried tomato tapenade. Topped off with a tangy Tzatziki sauce, everything is wrapped together in warm Greek flatbread, truly capturing the essence of the Mediterranean.
Halloumi Cheese Soaking Technique
In this recipe, I share a technique for soaking halloumi cheese, which helps remove excess salt, making it more palatable for the dish. I use this technique on many occasions for various dishes. It also affects the texture of the cheese, making it softer. The longer you soak it, the more salt is removed.
Greek Flatbread or Pita Bread
I always recommend preparing your own flatbread, but if you can purchase a pre-made, good-quality one, go for it. Here, you can find my recipe for Greek Flatbread, which doesn’t require much work and can be prepared in a pan on the stove.
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Definitely one of my favourite sauces for a variety of dishes. It is fresh, healthy, and flavourful. It’s perfect as a side for any grilled meat or vegetables and makes a lovely dip too. Here, you can find my recipe for homemade Tzatziki Sauce.
What is Greek Souvlaki?
Souvlaki, a traditional Greek dish, features marinated pieces of meat or cheese that are skewered and then grilled or fried. Typically, it’s paired with accompaniments like Greek flatbread, Tzatziki sauce, onions, tomatoes, and chips. Notably, souvlaki offers versatility, as you can prepare it with various meats such as chicken, beef, pork, or lamb. Transitioning from one ingredient to the next, it’s clear that this dish is both flavourful and adaptable.
A Journey Through Souvlaki’s Rich History
Tracing back to ancient Greece, souvlaki has a rich history as a favored street food, especially among soldiers and laborers. During that era, they would grill meat on skewers over open flames, providing a swift and delicious solution to feed many. As the years progressed, souvlaki underwent transformations, cementing its place in Greek culinary traditions. Nowadays, this delectable dish graces the menus of taverns and restaurants not only in Greece but also across the globe.
Traditional Greek Varieties of Souvlaki
Greek cuisine’s gem, souvlaki, comes in numerous variations, each offering a unique taste experience. The chicken variant, known as “kotopoulo souvlaki,” is soaked in a tangy mix of lemon and olive oil. Meanwhile, the pork souvlaki, termed “hirino souvlaki,” is enriched with a medley of spices and herbs. Additionally, the beef souvlaki, called “moschari souvlaki,” captivates with its deep marination in red wine, complemented by fragrant rosemary. Not to forget, there’s also the halloumi souvlaki, “souvlaki halloumi,” a delightful vegetarian option where the brined cheese is grilled to perfection, adding a creamy texture and salty tang to the mix.
What is Halloumi Cheese?
Halloumi cheese, a delightful product of sheep’s and goat’s milk, boasts a high melting point. This characteristic makes it exceptionally suitable for grilling, frying, and roasting. Notably, its unique properties make it an ideal choice for a vegetarian version of souvlaki. Originating from the sunny landscapes of Cyprus, the warm climate and time-honored production techniques have endowed it with a distinctive flavour and texture.
Tracing its roots back to the ancient era of the Ottoman Empire, halloumi cheese once served as a primary food source for the military. As merchants and traders journeyed across the Mediterranean, they introduced this cheese to various regions. Consequently, it seamlessly integrated into the culinary traditions of countries like Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. Over time, the allure of halloumi cheese has spread globally, and today, it garners appreciation from food enthusiasts everywhere.
Have you ever wondered about Tapenade?
Originating from the sun-kissed shores of southern France, Tapenade is a traditional Mediterranean spread, primarily crafted from olives and capers. Interestingly, the term “tapenade” takes its name from the Provencal word for caper, “tapeno.” Historically, this robust spread was employed to capture and preserve the essence of summer flavors.
While it began as a condiment to complement meats, it has gracefully transitioned to become a favoured bread spread. As the years have passed, numerous variations of tapenade have surfaced, seamlessly blending in ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, aromatic herbs, and crunchy nuts. Given its rich and multifaceted flavours, it’s no surprise that tapenade serves as a delightful complement to dishes like Halloumi Souvlaki, elevating its taste to new heights.”
Recipe Card for Greek Halloumi Souvlaki:
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- 4 Greek flatbreads
- 7.7oz Greek Halloumi cheese - (220g) diced
- 1/2 Lemon - juice only
- 1 Aubergine - medium-sized, cut into four lengthways and sliced
- 1 tbsp Balsamic glaze - (if not available dissolve 2tsp of brown sugar in 2tbsp of balsamic vinegar)
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 4.2 oz Sun-dried tomatoes - in olive oil
- 2 tsp Capers
- 1/2 Red onion - sliced into rings
- 17.6 oz Tzatziki
- Begin by soaking diced Halloumi cheese in a blend of water and 1/2 lemon juice for 30-60 minutes. This step mitigates the cheese's saltiness. Adjust soaking times to suit your taste preference.
- Heat up your oven to 180°C (356°F). In another bowl, toss the sliced Aubergine with 1 tbsp balsamic glaze, 1tbsp olive oil, 1/4tsp salt, 1/4tsp black pepper, and 1tsp dried oregano. Lay the mix on a tray and roast for 15-20 minutes.
- Extract the Halloumi from its soak and place it on a new baking tray. Gently dress the cheese with olive oil and bake alongside the Aubergine for 10 minutes, or until it turns a rich golden hue.
- As the Halloumi and Aubergine bake, craft the sun-dried tomato tapenade. Puree 120g sun-dried tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of baby capers, then set aside in a dish.
- Heat up the flatbread on both sides in a frying pan. Layer one side with the sun-dried tomato blend, followed by bits of baked Halloumi and Aubergine. Finish with a generous dollop of Tzatziki and a few red onion slices. Relish your savoury creation!
- Enhancing Halloumi Flavour: Soaking Halloumi in water prior to cooking can minimize its saltiness and modify its consistency. This simple technique can significantly elevate the taste of your Halloumi Souvlaki.
- Aubergine’s Unique Contribution: Aubergine, with its spongy nature, is an excellent choice for Halloumi Souvlaki. Its capacity to soak up liquids and spices transforms it into a succulent and tasty component in the meal.
Few words from Chef Lukasz
I hope you enjoyed this delicious vegetarian recipe for Halloumi Souvlaki. Please Subscribe to my online cookbook for more Vegetarian Recipes and more. Check out my Instagram to see more amazing dishes. Let me know if you prepared this recipe in the comment section below 🙂 Have a good Day!