Grilled Vegetable and Halloumi Sandwiches with Basil Aioli
Spring is here and it’s time to fire up the grill! These are truly beautiful summer sandwiches that can be ready in less than 30 minutes. I like mine with only vegetables, but if you know someone who truly needs meat, than you can do the same thing, but add some lovely grilled koftas to it! Use any vegetables that you like that will grill well. I used zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and onions here. You could try sweet potato, mushrooms, fennel, anything! Scrumptious!
If you’re unfamiliar with halloumi cheese, it has a very unique consistency, almost rubbery when cold, but melts beautifully and is salty. It originated in the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean and has since spread throughout the Aegean and Middle East. In Turkey, where I live, it is called helim.
As an aside, you’d be quite surprised how similar Greek and Turkish Mediterranean cuisine is, down to the names of the dishes, even thought the two languages are very different. For example, dolma and dolmati (stuffed grape leaves), balik and baliki (fish), cacik (pronounced jajik) and tzaziki (yogurt with cucumbers, mint, and dill), helim and halloumi. All the same! Tomato (American), tomato (British). Lol.
And for the purposes of this sandwich, don’t forget the Basil Aioli please!
- A few Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced about 1/4 inch
- 3-4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- 1 eggplant, sliced in round circles widthwise
- 2 red bell pepper, halved or quartered
- Any kind of nice pita bread or sandwich bread
- halloumi cheese, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic
- a handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbps lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- salt and pepper to taste
- To prepare the aioli, combine the garlic, olive oil, basil, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until a well combined. Add the yogurt, salt, and pepper and mix well. Refrigerate if not using right away.
- Lightly drizzle the onions, zucchini, eggplant, and peppers with olive oil and grill on both sides until slightly charred. Set aside. Quickly toast the bread on the grill to desired toastiness.
- Frying the halloumi: Now this is always the last step, because halloumi will turn rubbery when cool. Once everything else is ready, pour about a tablespoon of olive in a non-stick frying pan and fry the slices of halloumi for about 2 minutes on each side, until nice and golden. Immediately place the halloumi in the bread, top with the grilled vegetables and aioli sauce, and dig in!