June 27, 2021
In the spring and early summer, I’m constantly looking for more ways to utilize our local strawberry production. In addition to my love of tiny Alpine Strawberries, Over the years I’ve managed to come up with quite a few!
For a simple dessert, you can never go wrong with Strawberries with Sour Cream & Brown Sugar or a classic chocolate-dipped. This simple Strawberry Coconut Sorbet and my favorite Strawberry Mezcal Margarita are also both included in Lush Life along with this recipe for Seared Halloumi Cheese with Roasted Strawberries & Mint.
This fried cheese concoction began as an after-school snack for my kids and has since morphed into a cocktail-hour treat for adults. Halloumi, a semisoft sheep’s milk cheese from Cyprus, browns up beautifully in a hot frying pan. It’s exceptional with something sweet like this oven-roasted strawberry jam (don’t skip the chili flakes, they add great depth of flavor without too much heat). The cheese is firm enough to pick up as finger food, so there’s no need for crackers. Be sure to seek out small, ripe strawberries—large strawberries often have a massive white interior that can turn the jam brownish when cooked.
1 pound small strawberries (about 2 1/2 cups), stemmed, quartered (use Albion or Chandler, if available)
1/2 cup sugar
Dries red chile flakes
Flaky sea salt
8 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch-think rectangles
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
10 to 12 mint leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss berries with sugar, a pinch of chile flakes, and a pinch of salt in a small, high-sided baking dish, like a large round cazuela, or a Pyrex dish approximately 9 x 11 inches. Roast until juices have reduced by half, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool. (Jam can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat the oven to 200F. Drain the cheese of any extra liquid (it’s typically packed in a bit of water). Pat the cheese dry.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the cheese slices to the hot pan (you might have to do this in batches, as you don’t want to crowd the pan). Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the cheese over and cook until soft on the inside and a little crispy on the outside. Keep warm in the oven on a heat-proof plate until you are ready to serve.
Drizzle the jam over the warm cheese. Sprinkle with mint and serve.