Halloumi is one of those foods that new plant-based eaters may miss at the start of their dairy-free journey. It’s often the vegetarian option at restaurants, and a hugely popular ingredient in burgers, BBQS, and salads all over the world. As it’s a cheese made from animal milk, halloumi is not suitable for vegans.
But does this mean plant-based diners have to miss out on halloumi? Absolutely not. In 2023, it’s easier than ever to make dairy-free versions of pretty much any cheese – all you need is a bit of creativity.
Many countries in the world are seeing their final few weeks of summer weather of the year, and salad is an ideal dinner option to enjoy in the last days of warm evenings. Halloumi is often used as a protein source for salads, and there’s no need for vegans to miss out.
Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, otherwise known as vegan chef duo BOSH!, recently released a book called MEAT, where they share vegan recipes of traditionally animal-based dishes. One of these is a Hearty Halloumi Salad.
Why is halloumi not vegan?
The halloumi that you’d find in the supermarket is not vegan-friendly as it’s a product of animal use and exploitation. Traditionally, halloumi is made from a combination of sheep and goat milk. Occasionally it may contain cow’s milk.
The cheese is of Eastern Mediterranean origin, and it’s hugely popular in the UK. British demand for the cheese is among the highest in Europe. Due to the fact that halloumi has a high melting point, it’s often served fried or grilled. This means that it’s a widely-used alternative for meat, and is particularly prevalent in many vegetarian diets. Those transitioning from veggie to vegan, therefore, may be looking for a suitable halloumi alternative.
What is vegan halloumi?
With demand for vegan dairy growing, a number of brands are releasing vegan versions of popular cheeses, and some stores offer ready made vegan halloumi on their shelves.
Brands creating vegan halloumi include Violife, which offers a Mediterranean Style cheese that’s suitable for grilling. Green Vie features a similar product, while Tesco has created an own brand halloumi-style cheese.
Alternatively, you can make vegan halloumi yourself. BOSH!’s version uses a combination of tofu, nutritional yeast, lemons, olive oil, mint, garlic power, and salt.
BOSH!’s Hearty Halloumi Salad recipe
For the halloumi
- 1 325g block firm tofu
- 3 lemons
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp nooch (nutritional yeast)
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- sea salt
For the salad
- 2 red onions
- drizzle olive oil
- 2 vegetable stock pots
- 600 ml boiling water
- 2 red peppers
- 250 g cherry tomatoes
- 200 g pearl barley
- handful fresh mint leaves
- 1 bag mixed leaves (about 150g)
- 1 lemon
- sea salt
Prepare the halloumi
- Press the tofu to drain off any liquid
- Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a container, catching any pips in your free hand
- Add the olive oil, nooch, dried mint, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt, and stir to form a smooth paste
- Cut the tofu into 8 strips
- Put the tofu strips in the container and coat in the marinade
- Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours
- Preheat oven to 180°C after 2 hours' marinating time
Bake the halloumi
- Remove the halloumi from the marinade and bake it in the oven on the lined baking sheet for 25 minutes
While the halloumi is baking, make the salad
- Peel the red onions and slice them thickly
- Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil
- Once warm, add the onion slices and a pinch of salt, mix well and cook for about 10 minutes until the onion softens
- Mix the vegetable stock pots with the boiling water in a heatproof jug
- Trim, halve, and core the red peppers, cut into small cubes and halve the tomatoes
- Add the peppers to the onions and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the pearl barley and hot vegetable stock
- Cook the pearl barley according to the packet instructions until the barley has absorbed all the water and becomes soft
Griddle the halloumi
- Warm a griddle pan over a medium-high heat, lay the marinated tofu strips on the pan, and sear for 2 minutes on each side to create lovely dark griddle lines
- Transfer the halloumi to a plate and season with a good pinch of salt
Build the salad and serve
- Remove the pearl barley from the heat, slice the mint leaves, and mix through the pearl barley, along with the mixed leaves and tomatoes
- Halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice from both halves, catching any pips in your free hand
- Spoon the salad onto the bottom of a large serving plate and top with the halloumi slices
More vegan cheese recipes on Plant Based News
There are a wide variety of dairy-free recipes available, and many of them taste just like the real thing. If you enjoyed this halloumi salad and want to experiment with more vegan cheeses, check out the below: