What do you get when you take one of the greatest ingredients known to man (squidgy, squeaky halloumi cheese), and combine it with heaps of veggies, a rich tomato sauce, and crispy garlic breadcrumbs? Halloumi casserole! I usually opt for beans for protein when I make a casserole, but halloumi is a great option for something a bit different. I'd never put it in a casserole before, but it worked so well!
In case you're not too familiar with halloumi (where have you beeeeen?!), it's unusual in that it doesn't melt like most other cheeses - it holds its shape when it's heated, and just becomes nice and soft and squidgy. It's brilliant in this rich and tomatoey casserole - in amongst all the veggies, you get the odd mouthful of salty cheese, which is just amazing. And with plenty of black olives and the garlic breadcrumbs on top... this is definitely one of my favourite recipes in a while!
I made sure I added plenty of vegetables to my halloumi casserole to balance out all that cheese. Onion, peppers, courgette (zucchini), mushrooms - all sorts of Mediterranean-style veggies which go perfectly in the rich tomato sauce. Feel free to skip the black olives if you're not a fan, but I think they're another little treat that make this casserole feel really special.
Just stick a big green salad on the side (or some more garlic bread??), and you've got a brilliant dinner. I actually thought it tasted even better reheated in the oven the next day - the sauce was even thicker and richer, and the garlic breadcrumbs were even crispier. So this halloumi casserole would be perfect for a dinner party - prepare it in advance, and just pop it in the oven to reheat when your guests arrive (something like 25 minutes at a medium-low heat). It's something a little different that everyone will love.
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Halloumi casserole with crispy garlic breadcrumbs
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For the tomatoey halloumi casserole:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced (I used red and yellow)
- 1 medium courgette (zucchini), diced
- ~ 5 medium mushrooms, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 225 g halloumi cheese, diced (~ 1 ½ cups when diced)
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes (~ 2 ⅔ cups in total)
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 150 g (~ 1 cup) black olives
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
- Black pepper
For the garlic bread topping:
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- Few sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 slices bread, torn into a few pieces
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, and add the chopped vegetables (onion, peppers, courgette, mushrooms). Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are fairly soft. Add the minced garlic and diced halloumi, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Next add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, black olives, oregano, paprika, and chilli flakes. Season to taste (remember the halloumi is quite salty, so don't go overboard with the salt). Mix well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce has become fairly rich and thick.
- Meanwhile, add the garlic, parsley, bread, melted butter and olive oil to a food processor, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Blitz well to give garlic breadcrumbs.
- Transfer the halloumi mixture to a casserole dish, and sprinkle over the garlic breadcrumbs. Bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 15-20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy.
- Either serve immediately, or reheat the next day for an even richer casserole - straight from the fridge, it will take about 25 minutes at 180°C (Gas Mark 4 / 350°F).
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.