This beautiful little dish – often served as part of a Levantine mezze table – is outrageously easy to make. It’s bright, it’s salty, it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit sour so it’s the perfect accompaniment to a creamy, lemony and garlicky hummus, slivers of tangy feta cheese and generous chunks of my freshly-baked pide ekmeği (Turkish flatbread). Trust me, it’s a holiday on a plate, something we northern ‘hemispherers‘ so sorely need right now. Let me take you there: a few years ago we were treated to a week-long vacation on Cyprus and were taken to a beautiful restaurant called Ambiance near Kyrenia which sits on a beautiful wooden deck built into the shallow waters of the Mediterranean sea. It was pinkly dusk when we arrived and was entirely illuminated by candlelight; you know that feeling, when your body is still warm from the sun and you allow yourself to become totally immersed in the atmosphere; this was one of those moments that you know you must indelibly ink onto your memory. I flicked through the menu as I ran my fingers around the edge of a huge glass of rosé wine – you must know that I only drink rosé on holiday, I don’t even like it much, it just sits nicely with a sunset (yes, I am entirely bonkers). We chose a few mezze dishes to start and this sumptuous salad was amongst them. I have a much neater photo than the one shown here but as I compared the two, I realised that this one was more representative of the dish we were served that night; a beautiful chaos of colour and flavour.
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp za’atar
x2 250g packs of Cypriot halloumi (if it’s not from Cyprus, it’s not halloumi), sliced
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Chopped mint leaves, to garnish
Pomegranate arils, to garnish
How I make it
Place the olive oil in a bowl, add the za’atar and the halloumi. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
Heat a large griddle pan and add the slices of marinated halloumi – be prepared to do this in batches – and grill on both sides until golden brown. Remove from pan and arrange on a pretty plate.
Then add the tomatoes and pomegranate molasses to the pan. Stir around for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes become just warm.
Pour over the grilled halloumi and garnish with the chopped mint and pomegranate arils.