Halloumi is a slightly springy white cheese from the Mediterranean isle of Cyprus. It is traditionally made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk. Its texture is similar to that of whole milk mozzarella and has a strong, salty flavor as a result of the brine in which it is shipped.
And here’s the crazy part. It has a high melting point so it grills without dripping through the grill! When combined with marinated eggplant and pesto, the flavor of this burger is off the charts.
1 medium eggplant (cut into four ½-inch thick rounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon capers
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces halloumi cheese (cut into four ¼-inch thick slices)
4 Ciabatta rolls (cut in half horizontally)
4 tablespoons Vegenaise (or mayonnaise)
1 large tomato (cut into 4 slices)
4 teaspoons prepared pesto
Preheat grill to medium heat (about 375 degrees).
Place the eggplant slices in a shallow dish. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper together (when adding salt, keep in mind that the halloumi is a salty cheese). Brush the eggplant rounds with marinade (both sides) and set aside.
Arrange the marinated eggplant slices on the grill, and cook (covered) for about six minutes on each side or until the eggplant is tender. Remove from the grill, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside.
Grill the halloumi slices (uncovered) on both sides till golden grill marks appear, about two minutes per side. Remove from grill and set aside.
Grill the eight halves of ciabatta (cut side down) for two minutes on an open grill. Remove from grill and set aside.
Spread one tablespoon Vegenaise on the bottom half of each of the four rolls. Place one each of the eggplant and cheese on top of that. Top with tomato slices. Spread one teaspoon of pesto on each of the top halves of each roll and place tops on the eggplant/cheese/tomato stacks.
As they might say on the Island of Cyprus, Kali órexi!