27 May 2010

Char-Grilled Halloumi with Tomato Olive Dressing

Char-Grilled Halloumi with Tomato Olive Dressing

Don't you just love blogging? Has there ever been a place where you can make friends with so many like-minded people, learn new things and create new recipes to share all in one convenient location? I am continually learning and am always amazed by the number of ingredients I have never come across in my corner of the world. These are new taste sensations I am longing for. On one such Internet search I came across a new ingredient that my British blogging friends may have already heard of...sun blushed tomatoes.

We are all familiar with sundried tomatoes which are a staple in every day cooking and well known to us. They are usually made from Italian Roma type tomatoes and cut, seeded, and salted. The tomatoes are then placed in framed wooden trays raised on blocks for good air circulation. They dry in the hot sun to a fraction of their size and weight and usually end up packed in oil and jarred. Sundried tomatoes can also be made at home by oven drying at a low temperature or in a dehydrator.

Sun blushed tomatoes, on the other hand, seems to be a term used in Europe, and especially England, to denote a tomato that has been “not fully sun-dried”. They’re juicier and fruitier, but still fantastically rich in flavour.  They may also be called semi-sundried tomatoes and are described as similar to sundried, but much sweeter and less chewy. Sun blushed tomatoes are apparently expensive to buy, but you can make your own at home for mere pocket change.They are also typically packed in oil and sold in jars just like their sundried counterparts. I think I would love them in all manner of pastas, sauces, pizzas and salads. Once again roasting tomatoes that are not at the peak of their season comes to the rescue again!!

When I come across a new ingredient I try to get my hot little hands on it, if at all possible. This is the same reason that I buy a Costco card because I don't want to be excluded, even if I rarely shop there. When you are only one person it never makes sense. I drove to my local British shop instead in search of the elusive ingredient but they did not have a sun blushed tomato in sight. So, I decided to make my own version. Here's where the Internet comes in very handy!!!!I found a recipe by Britain's iconic network star Nigella Lawson. I altered the recipe a little since my oven would cool down quite quickly. She suggests turning your oven to a very high heat and then turning it off altogether. Keeping the oven at a low temperature works much better in my case, but this is your call.

I paired the sun blushed tomatoes with some halloumi cheese grilled to perfection for a special lunch. Halloumi is a firm-textured Cypriot cheese that has fast become widely available. A year ago it could not be found anywhere...yay for all those who requested it. We should do the same for Fage Greek yogurt!

Halloumi is fantastic char-grilled!!! It will toughen if allowed to cool, so it's important to serve it as quickly as possible. If your pan isn't large enough to fit both the onion wedges and cheese slices together, cook the onion first, then pile them at the edge of the pan while cooking the cheese.  Serve all on a bed of soft salad leaves, then drizzledwith the hot dressing. Add a good seeded crusty bread and enjoy!!!

 I am submitting this recipe to the 8th Mediterranean Cooking Event over at Tobias Cooks hosted my yours truly Tobias. Check out all of the stunning entries and Cypriot dishes!!!! I just recently discovered his blog. With my love for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine I don't know how I missed it. But that is the magic of the blogging world. Check out all of his droolworthy recipes.

**Char-Grilled Halloumi with Tomato and Olive Dressing**

2½ tablespoons olive oil, or oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 red onions, cut into thin wedges
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
10 sun-blush (recipe follows) or sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
12 stoned black olives, rinsed
250g halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm thick slices
125g baby salad greens [rocket (arugula), spinach, or your choice]

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the oil and the lemon juice in a bowl. Put the onion wedges in another bowl, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of this dressing and toss to coat. Set aside. Stir the garlic into the remaining dressing, then add the tomatoes and olives. Mix well and leave to marinate briefly.

Heat a cast-iron, ridged griddle pan over a moderate heat, then brush with the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Add the onion wedges and cook for 3–4 minutes until nicely browned on the underside. Turn the onion wedges over with a palette knife, then put the cheese slices onto the pan. Increase the heat a little and cook the onion wedges for a further 3 minutes and the cheese for 1½ minutes on each side until tinged with brown and just beginning to melt at the edges. (Alternatively, cook the onions and cheese on a sheet of foil under a medium grill or on the barbecue).

While the onion and cheese are cooking, mix the salad greens together in a wide salad bowl. Serve onto individual salad plates. Arrange the onion wedges and cheese on top.

Tip the tomato mixture onto the hot griddle and stir for a just a few seconds until hot and steaming. Spoon over the cheese and salad leaves and serve.

Serves 4

**Sunblushed Tomatoes**

adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Moonblush Tomatoes, from Nigella Express
makes about 1 cup (can easily be multiplied, though)

250g fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to its top temperature. Remove the stems from the tomatoes and cut them in half along their equator. Place cut side up in an ovenproof dish.

Mix together the salt, thyme, oregano and sugar and sprinkle over the top of the tomatoes. Drizzle over the olive oil and put in the oven.

 Immediately, turn the heat down to somewhere in the region of 75-100°C/165-200°F. This isn’t an exact science, and will depend on how long you want to wait for your tomatoes: the lower the temperature, the longer it will take but more flavourful they’ll be.

Cook for 2-3 hours, until the tomatoes are soft and fragrant. They should lose their raw look, but not be charred. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

You may also enjoy:

Fire Seared Antipasto Platter
Barbequed Marinated Goat's Cheese In Vine Leaf Parcels
Grilled Halloumi Cheese
 Fried Halloumi Cheese with Lemon & Caper Vinaigrette

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  1. Val, this is fascinating. I've never heard the term sun-blushed, but my northern Italian aunt used to roast tomatoes this way and almost always had some available. They were never to the point of dried, but SO sweet and luscious! This looks fabulous!
    xoxo pattie

  2. AnonymousMay 27, 2010

    WOW, theres to much to say. First of all, i love the name of your blog! Second, the recipe is awesome, beautiful..
    Love the "sun blushed" tomato, sometimes the sun dried here are kind of hard unless you get them in a jar. (yuk) Thank you so much!
    I will have to check on halloumi cheese, i don't know if we have that available here.. but then agaiin, i may have overlooked it.

  3. I love the Mediterranean flavors.. I have never tried halloumi, I'll have to put that on my list. :)

  4. Val, its a glorious day of eating Halloumi. Love this salad, could eat dinner all over again.

  5. Sun blushed ... how very sweet! I am so envying you with all of your grilling. It actually hailed here in California today and my BBQ is giving me the stink eye.

  6. I can't wait to fire up the grill this summer and throw a few slices of halloumi cheese on there. I can only imagine how delicious it must be with the dressing.

  7. Oh how funny, I just made an haloumi salad today that I will post tomorrow, and very similar to yours :) - your haloumi salad is gorgeous!

  8. Thats a nice one! I am currently writing a Cyprus feature on my blog. This dish fits perfectly!

  9. Mmmhhhh, mouthwatering! Char grilled halloumi is to die for!



  10. I am so interested with the dressing! I have never tried it. Thanks for the share.

  11. yum! that sounds like a fantastic summer salad, I love my halloumi...

  12. A wonderful meal Val! Love the dressing and I definitely love halloumi!

  13. sun-blushed tomatoes? that's a new one! i LOVE sun-dried maters, so i'm definitely intrigued by this blushing business. also, grilled halloumi is popping up everywhere, and rightly so--it's amazing!

  14. This dish fits the event perfectly! Thanks for participating!

  15. My mouth is watering at this...love the strong flavorsof the olives and tomatoes with the halloumi!!!

  16. What a wonderful dish. I'm going to try the tomatoes this weekend. Can't wait! I love halloumi and the way you have used it here is great. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  17. Very interesting about the sun blushed tomatoes! Nver heard of them before I am going to ask my Londoner cousin when I see him in a few weeks!

  18. I'm probably the only person in the world that doesn't love sun-dried tomatoes. I find them tough and chewy and why not just have fresh? These, on the other hand, sound wonderful! And I do wish I could find haoullimi! Sigh....

  19. Oh, sounds delicious; I have to try it.

  20. Hi Val: When I click on your post the English immediately changes to a language I'm not familiar with and there's no option to change to English. So, I clicked on Irish and it changed but just for an instant. Hmm, like being in a dream?? The recipe looks delicious so I'll be back to see if things have worked themselves out. If not, I guess I'll just have to learn the language to be able to read the recipe.


  21. I just finished roasting my roma tomatoes...now I will have to applying sun blushing to these fruits too. Great read.
    BTW...I was just letting Joumana at Taste of Beirut know that here in Montreal a good replacement for Halloumi is a cheese made in Quebec...called Doré-mi. If I'm not mistaken...it's also sold in the western part of Canada.
    Thanks for sharing all your info...wonderful meal. I'm famished.
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  22. You had me at halloumi! It is always a winner in salads!

  23. Val, You're so right about blogging and what it has given many of us. We've made friends, we've expanded our horizons, we share and we learn. Today I learned about sun-blushed tomatoes and that I need to put Halloumi cheese on my shopping list.

  24. AnonymousMay 29, 2010

    I am completely fascinated by the sun-blushed tomatoes! I haven't heard of them before but now will make them, thanks for the great recipe! The Char-grilled halloumi sounds awesome!

  25. I am completely smitten by the food blogging world, and this post makes it even more difficult when one is hungry. Between you, Minaki and Halloumi cheese I am HUNGRY Val!! On the list of things to make - Halloumi and sun blushed tomatoes. Thanks for sharing the idea; it's a winner!

  26. Yum! I love the sound of blushed tomatoes! I don't always care for sun-dried tomatoes for some reason (call me crazy!) but these blushed tomatoes look fabulous. I'd love to try them!

  27. Just jumping back in to wish you a great holiday weekend. Blessings ...Mary

  28. Halloumi is having a big week! I think I have seen it 4 times in recipes. Love it.

  29. I like their name, and they sound really good. Since I have the day off tomorrow (well, forcing myself to take it off), I'll make myself to the market to look for them.

  30. Sun-blushed? Oven-roasted? Either way I want to try this and would love to try it served this way with grilled halloumi but I've never seen that in France. But I'll be trying the tomatoes!

  31. Sun-blushed is certainly a very sweet name. I have made my first batch of halloumi, but it's not ready for prime time. In the meantime, I will enjoy your spread.

  32. Haven't visited for a while and missed this delicious recipe for halloumi, must try it... only tried it roasted with peppers before.
    Hope you are enjoying nice weather :)

  33. Hi there, the roundup and voting is online have a look!


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