These Halloumi and Tomato Pita Pockets were a lunch staple when I was working in Cyprus this summer. They are so simple to make and a really nice break from the typical sandwich fare. I made these for myself and my family about two weeks after returning home to the states and was instantly transported back to the Mediterranean coast.
If you’ve never used Halloumi before, you’re in for a treat. It’s a mild sheep’s milk cheese that is very popular in Greek cooking, usually served with appetizers. Although dense and watery when raw, it becomes thin and dry when cooked, and gets great color when grilled. Grilling Halloumi really is the ideal way to cook it, but I have used a broiling method here for those of us who can’t have them in our tiny New York City apartments.
As a side note, I really love the idea of Halloumi cheese as a vegetarian meat alternative. When cooked, it has a chewy, ‘meaty’ bite to it and is nicely salty. I’ll have to ask some of my vegetarian friends to try it and report back.
The tahini dipping sauce is the product of me experimenting to figure out how to eat tahini in as many ways as possible. In Cyprus, we always had tahini as a condiment on the dinner table and would liberally add it to nearly the whole plate. This version comes closest to a tahini inspired dressing, with olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice added to brighten up the heaviness of the tahini by itself.
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 8 oz. package fresh Halloumi cheese
- 3 rounds fresh pita
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons plain tahini
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
- Honey to sweeten if needed
- Combine olive oil, tahini, vinegar, and lemon juice. Don’t worry about separation of ingredients, this will be fixed in the final step. Depending on which brand of tahini you buy, it will be presweetened or not. If not and the sauce needs some sweetening to cut the lemon and vinegar, add about half a teaspoon of honey. I didn’t add sweetener to mine, as my tahini was already nicely sweetened. Lastly, add the tablespoon of water and mix well to achieve a creamy texture.
- Begin by prepping the halloumi. Slice lengthwise into approximately one quarter inch slices and place on a shallow sided baking tray. Broil on high until each slice is nicely browned.
- Slice the tomatoes into rounds, and the rounds into semi-circles. Set aside.
- Cut the pita into semicircles, and carefully separate each half into a pocket with your fingers. Using a convection oven or broiler, toast the pockets on each side until they are warm and lightly crisped on the outside.
- To assemble the sandwiches, place 3 slices of halloumi in each pocket, with 3 slices of tomato in a second, flat layer. Serve still warm with lemon wedges and tahini dipping sauce.
- Recipe inspired by Sunset Restaurant and Fish Taverna in Peyia-Paphos, Cyprus.