Vegetarian Grilling Series: Halloumi and Eggplant Kebobs

Barbecue season is officially upon us, and as a former vegetarian and current selective carnivore, I always despair a little about the dearth of good veg grilling options.  Vegetarian hot dogs are really bad as a rule (and the meat kind are scary), and while I love a good tofu dish I am not a fan of grilling it up in slabs.  Therefore I decided–for the good of humanity–to do a vegetarian grilling series that features no meat analogues (that means stuff that is supposed to be meat-like but is veg).  You are welcome, humanity!For my first go I went with a Greek-style halloumi and eggplant kebob (I am sure other people have thought of this, but it was the first time it has occurred to moi–not making any brilliance claims here, just passing on the deliciousness).  This is one of those times that I made a dish that sounded pretty good in theory, and then wondered why I had not been making it forever.  The smokey eggplant with the slightly-charred, salty cheese and warmed-to-bursting citrusy tomatoes is amazing.  Scoop it all up with some pearl couscous, and you have a super simple grilled meal that anyone would love.

If you are not familiar with halloumi cheese, it is firm, white cheese that is mild and salty and has a very high melting point.  That is why it is ideal for the grill–you can get great char marks on the cheese and it will not melt down into the slats.  You may have had a piece of this cheese “flamed” with alcohol at a Greek restaurant.  You can find it at specialty stores and high-end (expensive) grocery stores.

The kebobs are simple to assemble, and of course they would be great with mushrooms, summer squash, chunks of sweet onion, or any other vegetable you enjoy on the grill.  For these I trimmed the ends from a large eggplant and then cut it into cubes.  You want the cubes of eggplant to be approximately the same size as the cubes of cheese, for more-even grilling.  I tossed the eggplant cubes with this mixture: the juice of two large lemons, a third of a cup of olive oil, a half teaspoon of salt, and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic.  I let the eggplant soak that up for about ten minutes.

I then added in a small handful of fresh Greek oregano that I had coarsely chopped, and a large pinch of Aleppo pepper.  You may substitute dried oregano if you like, and regular crushed red pepper would be fine.  Toss in a pint of grape tomatoes and 12 ounces of cubed halloumi cheese, and gently stir to coat.

Thread the ingredients onto skewers (I used wooden skewers soaked for a few minutes in some water), and depending on how much you pack on, you will get about a dozen finished kebobs.  Grill over medium heat until you get some nice char on the eggplant and the cheese, and the tomatoes begin to break open from the heat.

Serve over couscous, rice, or tucked into some warmed flatbread.  We ate these with some good olives alongside, and some cinnamon roasted figs.  A beautiful grilled meal.

Thanks for reading,

-Angela

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3 Responses to Vegetarian Grilling Series: Halloumi and Eggplant Kebobs

  1. Jersey Girl Cooks May 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Mmmmmnnn! I need to try this. I love halloumi cheese with anything. Happy long weekend!

  2. Yenta Mary May 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    How perfectly luscious — ideal for a hot, sunny day!!! Too bad I don't have a grill … 🙁 Might just have to improvise!

  3. Cookin' Canuck June 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Halloumi cheese has such a wonderful flavor and texture and I love the idea of putting them in a kabob. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe in our Get Grillin' event!

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