Honey + Thyme Marinated Halloumi with Pickled Fennel + a Pomegranate, Pistachio + Salsa

Say cheese! Nothing, and I mean nothing can beat a good-quality cheese. Soft, crumbly, creamy, oozy, smelly, hard, sharp or mild, cheese is at the heart and soul of many food cultures and cuisines around the world.

For me, pure joy comes from finding the right pairing of cheese and accompaniments. It could be as simple as a sharp pecorino eaten with a crunchy, slightly sweet pear, or something a little bolder like squashing a piece of Roquefort on a ginger-nut biscuit – heaven, trust me.

I love the process of tasting a new cheese. Taking a bite only to stop and think about what works, be it textures, flavours, cooking method and so on. It is a question of combining all these elements, to showcase the beauty of not only the cheese, but also its companion.

The other week I was sent my final piece of kitchen gadgetry from The Good Guys as part of my involvement in The Good Guys Gourmet Gadget Challenge and Voices of 2013. This time around I was asked to come up with a recipe using the George Foreman Family Grill and the secret ingredient, herbs.

I decided to put together a summer-spirited grilling recipe that is perfect for outdoor BBQs or a quick midweek meal.

Grilling is a surprisingly delicious method for halloumi cheese, quickly rendering this squeaky, salty cheese golden and caramalised. I marinated the halloumi in olive oil, honey and fresh thyme and grilled it until wonderfully golden. Served on a bed of my speedy pickled fennel and topped with a punchy, sweet and nutty salsa, this halloumi dish will have you hooked.

Note: For those who don’t have access to a George Foreman Grill you can certainly create this dish at home on a BBQ or grill plate.

You’ll need
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FOR THE SPEEDY PICKLED FENNEL

1 fennel bulb, trimmed
2 thumb-sized pieces of lemon zest
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, sliced
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2½ tbsp honey
12 tbsp water

FOR THE HALLOUMI

250 gm halloumi
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE POMEGRANATE, PISTACHIO + HERB SALSA

120 gm pomegranate seeds – approx. one pomegranate
50 gm shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

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FOR THE PICKLED FENNEL

1. Slice the fennel very thinly using a mandolin or a sharp knife. Place sliced fennel into a jar

2. Add ginger, lemon zest and thyme

3. In a small bowl or jug combine vinegar, honey and water. Mix well.

4. Pour into jar with fennel and pop into the fridge for at least an hour.

Honey + Thyme Marinated Halloumi with Pickled Fennel + a Pomegranate, Pistachio + Salsa
Honey + Thyme Marinated Halloumi with Pickled Fennel + a Pomegranate, Pistachio + Salsa
FOR THE HALLOUMI

1. Cut halloumi into 1-1.5cm slices, place in a shallow dish.

2. Combine honey and olive oil in a separate bowl, mix well then pour over the halloumi. Add thyme and turn the halloumi a few times in the marinade to make sure the cheese is well coated. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pop the dish into the fridge for 30 or so minutes – if you’re in a hurry it will still be delicious if only marinated for 10 minutes.

4. When ready to grill, turn your George Foreman Family Grill on and wait for the little light to turn from red to green.

5. When green (HOT), take the halloumi out of the marinade and let the excess drip off. Place on the hot grill plate and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and crisp

6. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool slightly

Honey + Thyme Marinated Halloumi with Pickled Fennel + a Pomegranate, Pistachio + Salsa
Honey + Thyme Marinated Halloumi with Pickled Fennel + a Pomegranate, Pistachio + Salsa
FOR THE SALSA 

1. In a bowl combine pomegranate seeds, pistachios, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

TO SERVE

1. Arrange the pickled fennel on the base of a serving dish, place the slices of halloumi on top and spoon over some of the salsa. Serves 4-6.

Honey + Thyme Marinated Halloumi with Pickled Fennel + a Pomegranate, Pistachio + Salsa

The Good Guys are also giving you the chance to win your very own George Foreman Grill. For your chance to get your hands on one of these babies and try this recipe at home, simply head to their blog and leave a comment. Fingers crossed.