Whole roasted halloumi and citrus salad

The first time I discovered whole roasted halloumi in Lebanon I fell in love with it. It’s such a great way to cook the cheese. I am not going to knock pan-fried slices because they are equally delicious, but it’s just wonderful to discover a new way of cooking a favourite food.

The whole block of cheese is pan-fried to give a lovely colour on all sides and then roasted to soften. When the halloumi comes out of the oven it looks super relaxed, as if it has just exhaled happily, and when you poke it you can feel the cheese give in a moreish, melted way.

The rest of the ingredients are sensational summer foods: citrus fruits and soft herbs. This is best enjoyed outside on a sunny terrace.

Whole roasted halloumi
Nassima Rothacker

SERVES 2 AS A MAIN OR 4 AS A SIDE

2 tablespoons olive oil
250g block of halloumi
1 grapefruit, peeled
2 oranges, peeled
60g mixed rocket and baby spinach
2 handfuls of fresh oregano leaves
sea salt

TO GARNISH

10g pistachio kernels, bashed into a rubble
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200ÆC/180ÆC fan/gas mark 6. Heat the oil in a small, non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. Add the block of halloumi and cook for 2–3 minutes until golden on one side and then cook the four smaller sides for 30–40 seconds each until golden. Flip the block of halloumi onto its uncooked side and place the pan in the oven and roast for 18–20 minutes until the halloumi is really soft and gooey. The top will sink a little and when you poke the cheese in the middle, it should feel really soft.

2. Meanwhile, segment the grapefruit and oranges over a bowl to catch all the juices. Add a little salt to the juices and whisk them together. Put the segmented pieces of fruit into the bowl with the juices and add the salad leaves and half the oregano. Toss together and arrange on a serving plate. Place the gloriously golden block of cheese in the middle and garnish with the pistachios, sumac, Aleppo pepper flakes and remaining oregano. Serve immediately.

Saffron in the Souks by John Gregory-Smith is published by Kyle Books, £25