Last Sunday during my biweekly stroll through Trader Joe’s, I noticed a familiar item that I was happily surprised to see on their shelves. There, in green packaging with a picture of Cyprus, the island it originates from, was the tangy, salty cheese: hellim, also known as halloumi.
Integral to any successful Turkish-Cypriot breakfast at my grandparent’s house, hellim is cheese typically made from goat’s milk, and it’s best served grilled or pan-fried. It looks like a block of mozzarella, but it has a high melting point and is more spongy. It even squeaks a bit when you cut it.
You can pan-fry it with butter or olive oil, but honestly, using oil or seasonings are optional — hellim tastes delectable all on its own. Go ahead and take a bite out of it straight from the packaging, if you feel so inclined. However, if you were to season it, oregano, salt and pepper create a promising synthesis of flavor.
You’re probably thinking, “Grilled cheese sounds interesting, but what should I eat it with?” The way I normally consume hellim is by toasting some bread (I love sourdough, but the choice is up to you). Then, I top it with jam (raspberry or apricot jam is the best), put the pan-fried hellim on top of the jam and enjoy an open-faced hellim toast.
If you’re carb-free, don’t worry! You can still enjoy grilled hellim in a nutritious salad. Gather salad leaves of your choosing, olives, tomatoes, oranges and cucumbers and mix it all together. Top your salad with grilled hellim and a dressing of your choice (I recommend balsamic vinegar), and enjoy a refreshing salad!
Feel free to get creative with how you eat your hellim: See how it tastes with rice, greek yogurt, grilled chicken, tea — the options are limitless. Happy cooking, Bears!
Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].