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Halloumi with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Couscous

halloumi with oven roasted tomaotes & couscous by The Culinary ChaseIf you haven’t heard or tried halloumi cheese, you’re in for a treat.  Halloumi, the squeaky cheese, does not melt when heated. Instead it develops a delicious crust that surrounds a slightly springy, mild interior that squeaks between your teeth! Halloumi is the traditional white cheese of Cyprus and is made from ewes’ and goats’ milk.  It is a semi-hard cheese and is delicious when grilled or fried.  This dish uses halloumi as the crowning glory and works beautifully with the oven roasted tomatoes and couscous.

Serves 2 to 4
Halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
handful of mint and coriander, roughly chopped
2 cups of cooked couscous
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
roasted cherry or grape tomatoes
juice from half a lemon (can also use a splash of red wine vinegar)

halloumi1.  Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry halloumi for 2-3 minutes each side, until golden and lightly charred.
2. In a bowl, fluff the couscous with a fork. Add mint and coriander.  Add a splash of olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar. Toss to combine. Season according to taste and add more olive oil if mixture seems too dry. Add roasted tomatoes and gently toss.
3. Place herbed couscous on plates and top with halloumi slices. Drizzle more olive oil on top and serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Not only are your taste buds are in for a treat, this super easy meal is ready for the table in less than 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Tomato Dressing

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Tomato Dressing by The Culinary ChaseCouscous is a versatile pasta made of tiny grains of dough that are steamed. Couscous originated in Morocco and northern Algeria, and is a staple throughout North Africa. It can be served as a breakfast cereal, dressed as a salad, and sweetened for a dessert. It’s most common use is as a side in a stew or savory sauce (much like the way rice is served in other cultures). Israeli couscous is larger than the regular couscous and it has a chewy texture with a slight nutty flavor. The first time I used couscous, it was with roast chicken…so delicious!  If you like this recipe, then try swordfish involtini with couscous – a dinner table show stopper and it’s relatively easy to make!

Serves 6
adapted by Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 lbs. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 to 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

2 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 1/4 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

roasted tomates by The Culinary ChasePreheat oven to 300°F. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on a cookie sheet. Add garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan. Peel garlic and puree with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth.

To make the couscous, bring broth to a boil in a saucepan and stir in couscous. Lower heat to a simmer, uncovered, for 6 minutes. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork to make sure no clumping takes place. Transfer couscous to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Couscous needs enhancing as it’s bland on its own. The roasted tomato dressing combined with the herbs takes a humble staple and makes it shine.  Enjoy!