Like a burger, but the ground beef patty is replaced with halloumi cheese. See the Notes section at the bottom for more about this unusual cheese, which has such a high melting point it can be fried like a hamburger.
This recipe originally made an appearance as “Cheer-Up Cheeseburgers” in this summer camp.
Makes 4 “burgers”
1 fat clove of garlic
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Ground black pepper
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1.25 lbs halloumi cheese, cut into four “burgers” each about the size and shape of a deck of cards
4 hamburger buns
Lettuce, tomato slices and thinly sliced red onion (and/or any other fixins you want)
1. Prep the garlic-mayo: Grate the garlic with a microplane or grater with very small holes, into a small dish. Add the mayonnaise and a grind or two of black pepper, and whisk everything together.
2. Cook the halloumi:
Stovetop: Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When hot, add the halloumi “burgers” in batches if needed, to brown in the pan. When the first side has browned, flip them over to brown the other side. Add more oil if needed.
On the grill: Preheat the grill to medium-hot. Scrape the grates clean and oil them. Lay the halloumi directly on the oiled grates to brown on one side, then flip them to brown them on the other side.
Either way: Warm the halloumi until it is hot throughout and browned on the outside. Timing will vary depending on how hot your grill or pan is, and how thick your halloumi is.
3. Assemble and serve: When the halloumi is ready, spread some garlic-mayonnaise onto each bun. Then layer the halloumi, tomato, onion, lettuce and any other fixins you want. Serve hot.
Halloumi is a traditional cheese made in Cyprus and enjoyed throughout the Levant. It comes in a solid block, and has such a high melting point that it can be cooked directly on a grill or in a frying pan, just like a piece of meat! It’s an aged cheese, so it can be kept in the refrigerator practically forever and won’t go bad.
However, one defining characteristic of halloumi is that it tends to be a bit salty (and the longer it ages, the saltier it gets). So you’ll notice that, unlike an actual burger, I don’t call for seasoning the halloumi “burger” at all; it’s usually perfectly seasoned as-is.
It’s possible that you may pick up a highly-aged piece of halloumi and find it too salty, so taste it before you cook with it. A quick internet search turned up a couple of solutions: soak the halloumi in milk or water for 20 minutes before cooking, or just serve it layered with ripe tomato slices, which might reduce the saltiness on your palate.
You may not be able to find halloumi at conventional grocery stores, but I’ve found it at Whole Foods and at my local farmers market. I’ve seen it packaged in a few different ways, and it’s often sold in individual chunks about the size and shape of a deck of cards - which is perfect for making a burger! If you buy it in a larger chunk, just cut it into rough burger-shaped pieces as described above.