Bethany Kehdy

A Champion of Middle Eastern Food & Recipes

Valentine’s Day Dinner – Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa’tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis

Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa'tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis

Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa'tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis

Let me apologies for the radio silence over the last week or so. I’ve been so busy with different things from dealing with projects regarding this blog, FBC and then a last minute trip to Dubai to help with preparations for my cousin’s upcoming wedding in Rome. February is going to be a very crazy month. But, I’m not complaining…I’d much prefer to be busy!

Valentine’s Day is a couple of weeks away and I thought I’d offer you a three-course, Lebanese influenced menu for two. We will start with the first course.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa'tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis
Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa'tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis

Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese that is also popular around Lebanon and the Middle-East (Note: Cyprus is an island that is about 129 miles/208 km from Lebanon). Halloumi cheese is traditionally made from a mixture of sheep’s & goat’s milk, is salty and has a texture similar to mozzarella. What’s unique about this cheese is that it has a high melting point making it ideal for grilling or frying. Update: Upon further conversation with Peter of Kalofogas, it has been brought to my attention that the Cypriot Halloumi (with a capital H) is a PDO product (Protected Designation of Origin).

I’ve always loved the addition of Zaa’tar to Halloumi. Zaa’tar is a savoury blend of herbs and spices typically including dried wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. It has an earthy & pungent flavor. In Lebanon and around the Middle East, Zaa’tar is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast with a variety of cheese or spread onto breakfast pizzas (Manakeesh) which are also popularly consumed throughout the day, especially after a long night out when one needs to soak up excess alcohol!

This dish is great made ahead of time, you’ll just need to grill the Halloumi cheese just before serving.

Valentine's Day Dinner - Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa'tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis
Prep time
Total time
Serves: Serves 2
  • 250g Halloumi cheese, sliced lengthwise into four slices
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 garlic clove-smashed
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses or 1 tablespoons/15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon zaa’tar
  • 2 tablespoons or 30ml of olive oil
  • ½ loaf of arabic bread-cut into small triangles
  • 2 ziploc bags
  1. Begin by char-grilling the bell peppers on a medium flame, moving them around often to ensure even cooking.
  2. Red Bell Pepper
  3. Grilled Red Bell Pepper
  4. Once the bell peppers are char-grilled on all sides place them in a ziploc and seal tightly. Set aside for about 2-3 minutes and then using the bag peel the skin away. It’s ok if some of the burnt bits remain there is no need to wash this off, they add depth of character flavour.
  5. Sliced grilled red bell pepper
  6. sliced grilled red bell pepper
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C/4G. Fillet the edges, leaving the seeds and cap intact. Discard the seeds and cap. Add the bell pepper fillets, garlic, lemon juice or pomegranate molasses (I like pomegranate molasses because it adds lovely sweet and sour flavours) & paprika to a mixer and blitz till you reach a smooth puree.
  8. Place the arabic bread triangles in a pan and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or till crispy.
  9. puree grilled red bell pepper
  10. cut lavash bread
  11. Heat a heavy bottomed chef/sauté pan and lightly wipe with some olive oil. Place the halloumi cheese slices and cook about 2 minutes on each side. Turn over and repeat.
  12. sliced halloumi cheese
  13. grilled sliced halloumi cheese
  14. In the mean time you can prepare the zaa’tar by mixing it well with olive oil till all is well incorporated.
  15. zaa'tar
  16. zaatar
  17. Serve the coulis and zaa’tar at room temperature. Plate the Halloumi cheese on the bell pepper coulis, drizzle liberally with the zaa’tar mixture and then top with the crispy pita crisps.
P.S- You will most likely have some red bell pepper coulis left over. If so, store in the fridge and use as a base for pizzas, sandwiches, with pasta etc.


31 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Dinner – Grilled Halloumi Cheese With Zaa’tar & Red Bell Pepper Coulis

  1. Beth… you certainly ticked the right boxes with this one! I love Halloumi & Zaatar! I was thinking of cooking my partner a really nice meal soon. I can assure you this will defo be on the menu. Can’t wait to try it:)

  2. Love it Beth…and you’ve set me on a trail to make halloumi now. I love the combination of the meal which comes together with beautiful Middle Esatern flavours. Red bell pepper coulis is one of my faves, and fortunately I have a sack of Za’atar from Dubai. Beautiful post!

  3. Beth, Halloumi is probably my second fave cheese after Feta and I love how it holds up to heat.

    I had grilled Halloumi last year with a roasted red pepper sauce and so, I can relate to how wonderfully this tasted.

  4. Hmmm, I might HAVE to make this for the hubby since he loves halloumi and he loves Lebanese food and he loves red bell peppers and I think you get the point… Also, his birthday is the 24th, so not really a stretch from V-day to there is it… 😉 Lovely pictures.

  5. I’ve never tried grilling cheese, even though I love it when restaurants have it on their menu – this may be the recipe that gets me to finally do it myself – so delicious!

  6. oh such a perfect hit-the-spot meal!! I have not tried halloumi yet.. i think I’ll go hunting for it.. mostly have Italian cheese shops around me…hmmm..yummmmm (LOL.. yep I was thinking abt making it and it felt good :D)

  7. Beth! You know I love my zaatar – and would you believe I’ve never had it with halloumi? Must try it with some of the zaatar you gave me. The pictures are looking *lovely* by the way. Love the roses and candles – was that Chris?

  8. Hey Beth, was just wondering where you get your pomegranate molasses, I’ve been toying with the idea of baking with them as well as trying out some of your recipes and I have an idea of where I may be able to get some in London but was interested to find out where you get yours….Please don’t say Lebanon, it’s on my ‘to go’ list but not just yet 😉

  9. Beth, I loved the presentation and the idea of pairing the halloum with zaatar and the red pepper.
    So what if it is a PDO? Do we have to call it something else?
    I remember a blog somewhere where people were getting really mad because someone called Feta “Bulgarian”; apparently Feta can only be called Greek.

  10. The curious Baker- LOL! Not from Lebanon but a Middle Eastern store called Taj right next to me. You should be able to find it off any middle eastern gorocers off edware road.

    Joumana- Yes anytime you see or use Halloumi in this spelling it should mean that is Cypriot and not of Lebanese or say another country’s production.

  11. This is an instant fav! I have to give it a go very soon! I love halloumi. But would you believe I’ve never heard of zaatar?! I must have a look at a supermarket and buy it. Can’t wait for the other two courses 🙂 Beautiful pictures!

  12. I am going to try this dish as it looks delicious. Speaking of love reminds me of the upcoming wedding of my 26 year old daughter. Her grandmothers family is Syrian and she (my daughter)would like to know which traditions she could fold into her special event. Do you have any suggestions?

  13. I love Haloumi! I normally have it plain with some bread but with zaa’tar??! That would be a super treat for Valentine’s! Can’t wait to see the rest of the meal!!

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