Pan-Seared Halloumi Cheese and Caramelized Fennel with Orange-Pomegranate Reduction

from Gather 

Halloumi is a salty Middle Eastern cheese that handles heat well. Pomegranate molasses (which is essentially reduced pomegranate juice) can be found in any specialty shop—it’s a versatile condiment that you’ll want to add to your pantry. 

Serves 4


6 c canola oil

4 pitas

12 oz halloumi cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 oranges 

4 bulbs fennel, cored and cut into 1-inch-thick slices

1/2 c maple syrup

1/4 c sherry vinegar

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

1 bunch watercress, harder stems removed


Deep-fried pita chips 

Heat oil in a large saucepan to a temperature of 350ºF. (Use a thermometer for an accurate reading.) 

Using a 1 1/4-inch ring cutter, cut out rounds from pitas. Carefully lower pita rounds into the oil and deep-fry for 45 seconds, or until pita turns golden brown. 

Transfer to a paper towel–lined tray. 

Halloumi cheese and caramelized fennel

Put cheese in a bowl of cold water and soak for at least 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. With a small knife, carefully segment both oranges and set aside. Squeeze out all possible juice from the leftover membranes of the oranges into a small bowl. 

Arrange fennel in a single layer on a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the fennel is golden brown and caramelized. Drizzle with maple syrup, vinegar, oil, pomegranate molasses and reserved orange juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss lightly until the fennel is evenly coated. Bake for another 10 minutes. 

Pat halloumi dry with a paper towel. 

Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat. Gently place halloumi into pan and sear for 15 seconds, until golden brown. Flip over and cook for another 15 seconds. 

Scatter watercress on a serving platter, then top with pan-seared halloumi, roasted fennel, orange segments and deep-fried pita chips. 

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: Once you’ve tried hot halloumi, you’ll be hooked. The reduction is a nice off-set to the rich cheese. People in my family don’t care for fennel so I used a mixture of sauteed baby spinach and spring greens for a savoury note. Makes a great patio lunch with a robust glass of Chardonnay.

Excerpted from Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson. Photographs by Kevin Clark. Copyright 2019 by The Dirty Apron Cooking School. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.