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A little crisp, a little tender and even a little squeaky, this pan-fried haloumi is a cheese lover's dream.

Award-winning cookbook author and culinary instructor Marie Simmons’s new recipe collection is an homage to the delicious vegetarian cuisine found in every food culture around the world. From Latin America to the Middle East, Asia to Oceana and every dining table in between, lovers of meat-free eating have a new must-read for their kitchen libraries. 

This cheese is described in my well-worn copy of Murray’s Cheese Book as “a rubbery little block, off white and tightly wrapped in Cryovac, not usually what we’d associate with fine cheese. But in the proper application, haloumi is irreplaceable.” The following recipe is, I’d argue, the “proper application.” The version most readily found at many cheese counters is usually enjoyed pan-fried or grilled. Hot off the grill or pan, the outside is firm and crunchy and the inside irresistibly soft and runny. As it cools, the inside turns “squeaky.” I like it with a simple topping of an intensely fruity olive oil and some lemon juice, zipped up with a teaspoon or two of za’atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. A more traditional embellishment is a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of toasted pignoli. In the following versions, I describe how to cook the cheese plain, coated with flour, or coated with panko crumbs. Each is delicious. The haloumi is best when soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour or overnight before using.

Reprinted with permission from Whole World Vegetarian