Halloumi is often the default cheesy slab to fry or grill. Served as a meaty substitute at a barbecue, like it so often is, this cheese can lack any real interest save its characteristic squeaky saltiness. It can also tend to dry out when cooked. As a result, I think it is essential to serve halloumi alongside something full-tasting and unctuous; something that has a bit of moisture to it. Tomatoes and aubergine, cooked with honey and paprika, make this dish just the ticket. Serve with pitta or flatbread to mop it up.
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish and serve
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 x 400g can of whole plum tomatoes or 400g fresh tomatoes
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika (not smoked)
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp salt, plus extra to season
1 tbsp runny honey
2 large aubergines, peeled and finely diced
2 x 400g cans of butter beans, drained and rinsed
zest and juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped, plus extra to serve
450g halloumi, cut into 1cm slices
freshly ground black pepper
warmed pitta or flatbread, to serve
Put 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Add the garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, spices, salt and honey and cook for about 2 minutes, until starting to thicken.
aubergine and 200ml water and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat slightly
and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is lovely and thick and the aubergine is soft and cooked through. Add a splash of water if it dries out before the aubergine is cooked. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary.
Stir in the butter beans and cook for 2 minutes more for the flavours to mingle. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice and the parsley. Mix together, then put to one side to keep warm.
Put the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the halloumi and cook each side for about 1–2 minutes, until golden and crisp.
To serve, transfer the aubergine and butter beans to a wide, flat serving dish and top with the fried halloumi. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with warm pitta or flatbread.
Edited extract from New Kitchen Basics: 10 Essential Ingredients, 120 Recipes: Revolutionize the Way You Cook, Every Day by Claire Thomson, photography by Sam Folan, published by Hardie Grant.