Halloumi and home-improvements

Halloumi is brilliant. FACT. On a kebab at a barbecue, with a pile of guacamole for lunch, fried in little strips to enjoy with a glass of dry white…the possibilities are limitless for this multi-talented morsel. One of my favourite ways with this squeaky cheese is marinated upon a pile of rich ratatouille.

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This is a simple supper, perfect for the summer heat that seems to have descended on London, but it is still a winner of a dinner. Here’s how to make it…

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

For the halloumi:

2 x 250g packets of halloumi, cut into slices 1-2cm thick
2 x chillies, de-seeded if you so desire
4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon, or a couple of good squirts of bottled lemon juice
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
Pepper

For the ratatouille:

4 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 aubergine
3 peppers, mixed colours
3 courgettes
2 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

RECIPE:

First, marinate your cheese; this is done by simply bunging all the halloumi ingredients together into a Tupperware or sandwich bag and putting it in the fridge for anywhere between 2 hours and 12. Simple.

When you are ready for the meal, cut all your vegetables into nice sized chunks (about 2cm).

Heat the olive oil in a pan (it may seem like a lot of oil, but the vegetables, especially the aubergine, will use it all), and add the onions, cooking until softened.

Add the rest of the vegetables and the garlic and cook, stirring only occasionally, over a medium heat, until they have the right amount of ‘crunch’ for you. (I like my veg to retain much of their original crunch.)

Add the tomato purée, and cook for a minute or two.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and balsamic vinegar, stir, pop a lid on the pan, lower the heat, and leave to simmer.

Meanwhile, get your marinated halloumi out of the fridge. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan on a medium heat (dry, as the marinade oil will soon be added) and add the cheese, along with all the marinating juices, herbs and chilli.

Cook the cheese until its underbelly is golden and the top is starting to become soft and molten; then, using a palette knife, flip the cheese and cook the other side until it too is burnished.

Pile your now perfect ratatouille on a plate and perch your halloumi proudly on top.

Serve with green salad and crusty bread. Lovely.

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MY EXPERIENCE:

Well, I have touched down in London town. So this meal was both cooked and consumed whilst at the same time putting up some shelves for a few of my books.

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So, another reason that halloumi is brilliant is that it turns you into a DIY god. Or else frees up some time by being so quick and easy. One or the other…

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