Halloumi with Strawberries, Pickled Chilies and Carob Molasses
This dish is representative of the food we’re cooking at Shaya: traditional foods brought to Israel by immigrant cultures in tandem with ingredients from Louisiana. We have an incredible strawberry season that lasts most of February until June.
- ¾ pound fresno chili peppers (or wax peppers)
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 8 cloves garlic
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 pound strawberries
- 16 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 4 pieces
- 3 cups canola oil
- 2 tablespoons carob molasses*
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the stems off the top of the peppers with a small paring knife. Insert the paring knife into the pepper and scrape out all the seeds and pith into a large bowl. Discard the stems and seeds, and place the peppers in a large container with a lid.
- On a cutting board, crush the garlic with the side of a knife. Place the garlic, oregano, water, vinegar, salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium sauce pot; bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the pickling liquid sit for 3 to 5 minutes and then pour over the peppers. Let the pickled peppers cool until room temperature.
- With a small knife, remove the leaves and stems from the top of the strawberries. Place the strawberries in a shallow baking dish with the bottoms of the fruit facing up. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the fruit is a dark garnet color. Keep the strawberries in the syrup and cool to room temperature.
- In a frying pan, heat the canola oil to approximately 400 degrees. Carefully place the halloumi in the hot oil and cook until golden brown. Flip the cheese over with a long pair of tongs, as necessary. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel to catch any excess grease. To serve, pour the strawberries and their syrup on the bottom of a plate and place the halloumi on top of the fruit. Chop the pickled chilies into large pieces and sprinkle approximately one pepper over the top. Drizzle ½ tablespoon of carob molasses over each portion.
- *Carob molasses is available online and at kosher or Middle Eastern/ethnic food markets.