This evening I tried Saganaki. No its not a new yoga pose or a miso based cocktail but a Greek cheese. As a halloumi addict I felt a nagging pinch of betrayal to the Cypriots as I experimented with this new ingredient that has recently landed on our English shelves. Yet another speciality that we have been spoilt with access to!
I can only describe the taste as that which you get from the fried, crunchy, cheeky and gooey cheesy bits you get from the side of a cheese toasty which has managed to leak provocatively from the inside and burn and fry on the hot metal of the toasty machine. Saganaki in Greek is said to mean ‘frying pan’ so this was exactly how I cooked it. And this cheese pan fries amazingly, crispy on the outside but gooey in the centre. Fried with a little oil, floured first if you like, and some toasted sesame seeds. The only thing that would have made it better is a drizzle of runny sweet honey. This is often served as a dessert in this way too. However I served mine here with a simple fresh salad to counteract the fried cheese.
- 1 x packet of Saganaki (see here for where to buy)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp runny honey (optional)
- 2 avocados
- ½ red chilli, chopped finely
- ½ small red onion, sliced finely in pinwheels
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- Handful rocket leaves
- 2 gem lettuces
- 1 large lemon
- 1 large sweet potato, chopped into wedges
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Drizzle the sweet potatoes wedges with a little oil and season. Add the cumin seeds and toss to coat. Roast for about 35 minutes until crisp and tender.
- Meanwhile assemble the salad. Chop the avocado into slices and place in a large serving bowl. Add the chopped chilli, red onion slices, spring onions and season well. Squeeze over a good amount of lemon juice, about ½ the lemon, and set aside.
- Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and add 1 tbsp of a light oil. Cut the slices of cheese in half on the diagonal. When the oil if hot, fry the cheese for about 1 minute on each side until a golden crust forms. Just before removing from the pan, drizzle over the honey and sesame seeds and heat for a few more seconds before taking off the heat.
- Use a spatula to remove the cheese to a paper towel to drain some of the excess oil.
- When ready to serve add the salad leaves to the avocado mix and add a touch more lemon juice. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and toss the salad to combine. Check the seasoning,
- Place a heaped pile of salad in a serving bowl. Add a few potato wedges and top with the cheese, sliced again if you like.