Hellllooo, halloumi. Bringer of happiness, upgrader of barbecues, squeaker of teeth. I use halloumi all the time, but I realised the other day* that 99% of the time, I serve my halloumi with bread. Halloumi burgers, halloumi pittas, halloumi bruschetta… all good stuff, but today I thought I’d make something different – halloumi pasta! Cheese and pasta are a match made in heaven, but somehow I’ve always overlooked halloumi as a pasta accompaniment. Never again. It’s brilliant.
*when I’m alone, my mind often wanders to thoughts of cheese.
Did you know that there are now five times as many online searches for ‘halloumi’ than there were 5 years ago? I’m not even sure I’d heard of the stuff five years ago (though I always knew there was something missing from my life…), and now it’s one of my favourite ingredients to cook with. To be honest quite a large chunk of those online searches were probably made by me, but hopefully you guys have become as enamoured with the stuff as I have, and hopefully you’ll enjoy this asparagus and halloumi pasta.
I started with some pretty little twisty pasta that I found at Waitrose (if you want to try it, I believe it’s called ‘strozzapreti’, which is impossible to say in anything other than an extremely exaggerated Italian accent). Waitrose have very much got behind the recent halloumi trend, with a whole section of their site dedicated to halloumi recipes (I will definitely be trying roasted halloumi very soon!).
Then I just tossed the lovely Waitrose pasta and the squidgy halloumi together with some veggies and the beautiful smoky tomato pesto, which is super easy to make. It starts life as a simple sun-dried tomato pesto, but instead of adding olive oil, I used Greek yogurt to make it nice and creamy (does it still count as pesto? meh), and also some smoked paprika, which adds an incredible flavour. The crispy halloumi goes so, so amazingly well with the smoky sauce. I’m kicking myself for not putting paprika in pesto sooner.
Are you as big a lover of halloumi as I am? If you’ve never tried it before, check out my guide to cooking halloumi perfectly, and then try out my halloumi pasta – or one of the other lovely halloumi recipes on the Waitrose site!
Asparagus and halloumi pasta with smoky tomato pesto
- 1 small clove garlic
- Small bunch fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley)
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- 5 pieces sun-dried tomato
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
- Black pepper
- 125 g halloumi, diced (~ 1 cup diced)
- 6 spears asparagus
- 1 small courgette (zucchini)
- 300 g fresh pasta (~ 3 cups)
- Fresh rocket (arugula), optional, to serve
- To make the smoky tomato pesto, add the small clove of garlic to a mini food processor with the fresh herbs and pine nuts. Blitz until finely chopped. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and smoked paprika, and blitz again. Finally, add the Greek yogurt and plenty of salt and pepper, and blitz to combine.
- Add the diced halloumi to a dry frying pan, and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, until the underside is crispy and golden brown. Turn the halloumi pieces over, and repeat with the other side.
- While the halloumi is cooking, cut the asparagus into 2 inch pieces, and shave ribbons from the courgette using a vegetable peeler. When the halloumi is fairly crispy, add the vegetables to the frying pan, and cook for a few minutes, tossing regularly, until the vegetables are tender.
- Boil the fresh pasta according to the instructions on the packet (usually around 3-8 minutes), until cooked al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
- Add the smoky tomato pesto and the cooked vegetables and halloumi to the pasta, and mix well. You may wish to add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce a little. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, until warm. Serve garnished with some fresh rocket (arugula) if desired.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/3 of the recipe.