Halloumi with Honey Grilled Figs & Pink Peppercorns
The pink peppercorns look beautiful and add a mild spiced flavour in this dish. They are also texturally wonderful, their crispy little skins offering a nice contrast to the rich halloumi and soft fig. I’ve also introduced cinnamon sticks, which present beautifully if plated-up with the finished dish, and are also very much in line with the other Eastern Mediterranean flavours. I wondered about star-anise for a while… I think it could work. It would certainly be very pretty. Could it all become a little too much? Maybe. If you give it try with star anise, please get in touch, I’d be interested to hear how it goes…
(Serves 4 as mezze)
- 400g Halloumi cheese
- 4 ripe figs
- 4 tbsp Acacia honey
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- A few thin sticks of cinnamon
- Smattering of pink peppercorns – smashed a little with a rolling pin
- Mint to garnish
- Small amount of olive oil for frying
Cut the halloumi carefully into slices just under 1cm thick. (Other than care with the knife, the only thing I find that helps stop halloumi splitting when cut is to choose carefully in the supermarket – some brands are less dense, and therefore more prone to splitting than others. If the packaging is transparent, take a look at the individual halloumi you are buying. On inspection, you’ll find that some look 'split-ier' than others.)
Halve the figs, cutting vertically from the stem to the base.
In a small mug, mix the honey with a few tablespoons of boiling water to get it to a thin, pourable consistency.
Place two non-stick frying pans on the stove-top - a larger one for the halloumi and a smaller one for the figs.
Over a medium heat, heat a very small amount of olive oil (a teaspoon or so) in the smaller pan. Using a scrunched-up piece of kitchen roll, distribute the oil thinly across the base of the pan. Place the figs, cut side down into the pan, cooking for two minutes or so on the cut side, before turning over to cook on the skin side for another minute or so. Now, splash in the thinned honey. This should erupt into lots of bubbles and momentarily envelope the figs. Turn the heat to low and add the cinnamon sticks. Gently turn the figs over occasionally and baste with the honey mixture while you get on with cooking the halloumi.
Oil the larger frying pan similarly to the first, spreading again with kitchen towel to achieve a thin cover. Place this over medium-high heat and fry the halloumi slices for a few minutes on each side, turning carefully with a spatula until golden in colour.
When the halloumi is nearly ready, turn the heat up to medium under the figs, splash in the balsamic vinegar, and continue to reduce for two minutes or so more. (The honey-balsamic combination should have a syrup or glaze-like consistency at this point).
Serve the halloumi and figs together as soon as the halloumi is cooked, pouring the glaze over both, (halloumi does not like to go cold!). To garnish, top with a cinnamon stick or two, some mint leaves, and a scattering of the crushed pink peppercorns.