mediterranean-baked-feta-with-tomatoes Recipes

mediterranean baked feta with tomatoes

A few summers ago, I discovered what I consider to be one of the greatest things that has ever been placed over oiled grill grates on a beachy summer evening, preferably while a glass of rose trickles condensation down your hand: grilled haloumi cheese. Maybe you’re Greek Cypriot or better versed in the world of grill-able cheeses than me and are nodding silently right now, lucky enough that this is old news. Or maybe you’re confused because I just said grilled cheese and really? There is nothing new about two slices of white bread fried in butter until the gooey orange runs over the crusts and your freak-of-a-toddler won’t touch it. But, of course, this is an entirely different kind, no bread, no butter and absolutely better in summer than any other time.

a big block of bulgarian feta
a basket of pretty tomato marbles

Haloumi, the star of the saganaki show, is like the hardest feta you’ve ever seen, and quite rubbery when cold. I bet that made you really hungry, right? But the thing is, when heated, it becomes tender in the center but not runny; it doesn’t fall apart, just blisters and sighs. The easiest way to eat it is sakanaki-style, with lemon juice, black pepper and pita bread. But my favorite way is finely chop a salad of fresh tomatoes, olives or capers, red onion, olive oil and red wine vinegar and spoon it over the grilled haloumi slices. You dig in immediately and wonder where it has been all of your life.

halved cherry tomatoes

chopped kalamatas

Nevertheless, I have never spoken of haloumi here, difficult as it has been for me to ever shut my yap about a great cooking discovery, because it’s just not that easy to get. I see it more places every year — even Whole Foods and Fairway last week, and it’s always been a mainstay at cheese stores — but it’s really marked up in price and hardly everywhere and the last thing I want to do is ooh and aah over something that you’re never going to get a taste of. That is, usually. But it wasn’t until I had a chance to preview the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook a couple weeks ago that I finally figured out how I could make this dish something that everyone could love, regardless of their level of access to Mediterranean cheeses.

ready to assemble

In her stunning first book that will immediately make you want to run to the kitchen and do something new with vegetables, Sara Forte suggests that you either grill or bake feta cheese — which will give you a haloumi-like impression but is softer and easier to find — with halved cherry tomatoes, chopped Kalmata olives, red onion, garlic, parsley and a tiny drizzle of olive oil until it becomes soft enough that you can scoop it up with a piece of flatbread. It makes a great low-fuss appetizer or side dish or, heck, even dinner with a summery salad and some cured meats or pickles, something I think we should do as much of as possible before summer is over. Deal?

baked feta with tomatoes and olives
scooped with flatbread

One year ago: Zucchini Fritters
Two years ago: Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Three years ago: Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting, Melon Agua Fresca and Cubed, Hacked Caprese
Four years ago: Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs and Dimply Plum Cake
Five years ago: Smoke-Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers

Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted, barely, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

I don’t think anyone would mind if you use more than the suggested amount of tomatoes. Feta is so salty and tomatoes are so delicious and sweet right now, the more the merrier. Now, I don’t have a grill but I am sharing the grilling instructions here because most of you do, but with the caveat that I haven’t tested this on a grill. My only concern would be leakage. I don’t think any harm would come from doubling up on the foil.

If you’d like to make this with haloumi (you can buy it here or here or here, btw, and probably a cheese or good grocery store closer to you), I like to cut my block of haloumi into about 1/3- to 1/2-inch slices. I brush the grill with oil and place it gently, directly on the grates, cooking it until it’s blistered on one side, then flipping it and doing the other. Lay the grilled slices out on a plate and toss it with a chopped salad made from the non-feta ingredients below, plus a splash of red wine vinegar. I usually skip the garlic (just personal taste) and would only use a tablespoon or so of minced red onion, since the salad will be raw, but otherwise think you’ll love it as much as we do.

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped, pitted Kalmata olives
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (oops, I forgot this)
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8- to 10-ounce block feta
Crackers, flatbread*, pita chips, or crostini, for dipping

In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper.

On a grill: Heat your grill to medium-high. Set the feta block in the middle of a piece of foil. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Fold up the edges of the foil so that it will hold in any liquid as it cooks. Place the packet straight on a grill for 15 minutes to warm it through. Remove from grill and transfer to plate or serving dish.

In the oven: Heat oven to 400°F. Check to see that your dish is oven-proof. (I didn’t!) Place the block of feta in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15 minutes.

Both methods: The feta will not melt, just warm and soften. Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers; eat immediately. As it cools, the feta will firm up again. We found that the dish could be returned to the oven to soften it again. We did this with leftovers, too.

* I made these. These days, I’ve been running a pizza wheel over the rolled-out pieces to pre-cut it into rough rectangles before baking it, like so.

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211 comments on mediterranean baked feta with tomatoes

    1. deb

      Kelly — I bet it would be delicious with goat cheese. It will probably need less time to soften (being already soft) and will scoop more easily with crackers.

  1. Emma

    That looks delicious, and in the UK halloumi is really easy to get hold of. Even the little shop on my university campus stocks it. I’m always looking for more things to do with it.

  2. The photos are so vibrant that I can practically taste the fresh tomatoes and briny feta. For me, I’m wrapping this fragrant mix in a nice soft, warm hunk of naan. Lovely weekend inspiration. Cheers!

  3. Annnddd…now I have to re-writer my grocery list. Thanks. I think I need to buy the book – looks like it could be helpful in my very slow progress towards vegetarianism.

  4. I just died and went to salty heaven, or at least I’m planning to when I make this. My cherry tomatoes plants have finally started to bear fruit, and this is just the recipe for my small but glorious harvest.

  5. Mary Beth

    While on vacation in Greece a couple of years ago, I ate a version of this so often and in such vast quantities that their feta supply was in serious danger of depletion. The entire populace (of people AND goats) breathed a collective sigh of relief when I left. Do yourself a huge favor and make this yummy dish!

  6. This looks awesome, and my cheese loving husband can so get behind this.

    Of course, the cheese I have the best access to right now is paneer, so it would be a lot less salty. That’s what a bit of smoked sea salt is good for!

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Feta cheese, so I will definitely make this soon. This just gives me another reason to go on a shopping spree at the local farmer’s market:)

  8. Yum, I love this idea. Although, I have to be a little nit-picky and say that making saganaki with halloumi is more specifically a Cyprian specialty; most of the time when you have saganaki in mainland Greece (or Greek restaurants) it’s going to be kefalograviera or kefalotiri. They’re all delicious! But you’re right, I think halloumi is probably more universally available and I’m just a spoiled New Yorker who knows where to get her obscure Greek cheeses.

  9. There could not be a better combination of ingredients for a summer dish! I have been making so many salads and slaws with fresh feta, my recent favorite is from Maplebrook Farm – you can find it at Whole Foods or anywhere in Southern Vermont!

  10. Melanie

    I lived in Cyprus for four years when I was younger, and halloumi was one of our go-to cheeses. If you can find it, get some. Slice it up and pan fry it. If you can prevent yourself from shoving it all down your throat immediately, put it in pita bread with sliced cucumbers. I miss the stuff so much. The (imported) version we get in Canada is not quite the same, and crazy expensive. It is salty like feta, but the texture and the crispiness it gets when you fry it is just something else entirely. Thanks for bringing more attention to it, Deb! Maybe in a few years it will be as common as Brie in the “exotic cheeses” section. We can dream.

  11. This is brilliant! One of my favorite thing to do is get a cheese [or two], a baguette, and a easy to eat raw vegetable [cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, etc]. Sometimes I’ll throw a marinated chicken skewer on the grill, too. Couple that with a glass of wine, and that’s my idea of summer. Grilling the Feta is definitely going to get added to the list of things to do before summer is over! So sad about the oven proof dish. That’s definitely something I’d do.

  12. I first discovered halloumi when I lived in London – it’s so easy to buy there, and only £2 per pack! when I moved back to the States, I was heartbroken to see it at Whole Foods for $10. we always grilled it as a appetizer to light Mediterranean meals – how funny that one of the things I miss the most about England has nothing to do with the UK!

  13. AB

    Looks great! But it’s ‘better versed… than I’ and not ‘better versed than me.’ It’s easy to doublecheck this: what you’re really saying is ‘better versed than I AM.’ ‘Better versed than me am’ isn’t appropriate English.

    Sorry for being so picky but you ARE a published auteur!

  14. Susan

    This looks so good. My garden tomatoes are starting to overwhelm, so I’ll just chop and drain them a bit to use instead of buying cherry toms. I love that rosemary flat bread of yours and make it often.

  15. Amy

    This looks like the perfect easy dinner for those long summer evenings! I’m in New Zealand, so delicious ripe tomatoes are a few months away…I will be making this as soon as I can :)
    Love your work and cannot wait for your cookbook!

  16. Sequoia N.

    This reminds me of your butter roasted mushroom recipe (which I loved) but more ‘summer-ified’. Yes. that is a word. :)

  17. As huge as my love for feta is, I’m surprised I have only tried it on salads. Baked feta sounds delicious and mediterranean style with tomatoes makes the whole dish come together so seamlessly! I’m excited to venture into the realm of baked feta!

  18. Kristen

    Love baked feta, and this looks divine. I was introduced to it by Matt from Matt Bites:
    http://mattbites.com/2008/01/20/my-new-favorite-thing-of-all-time-for-today-at-least/.

    And your kiddo is just too cute. I have one about the same age who also shirks the traditional kid staples – no mac and cheese, grilled cheese nuggets. I have the feeling, however, that she’d also shirk foie gras and truffled anything, too. But you never know. They are mysterious beings, those toddlers.

  19. Grilled (actually, fried – just for the heck of it) haloumi is a staple in our house. But that’s in a country where a block of it costs a couple of dollars – I’ve ASTOUNDED by the cost of it in the US. Surely access to cheap squeaky grillabble sheep’s cheese is a basic right?? Next time you get some, I recommend it, grilled or fried, sprinkled with olive oil, finely chopped fresh red chilli, and fresh lemon. Oh, and a bottle (or two) of chilled beer. Bliss…
    (PS – more comprehensive recipe of how we usually eat it here: http://relentlesslaundry.blogspot.com/2011/03/sook-whos-talking.html)

  20. Deb! Thank you! The photos look so fabulous, I want a bite of yours. Really appreciate the kind words and mention on the book. With your magic touch, I’ll be nodding off in the back of limos like Oprah in NO time ;)

  21. aamna

    I am surprised to read this – I see halloumi everywhere I go. I grocery shop at Halal stores, and alot of them carry halloumi and fresh fetas at pretty reasonable prices. I just prefer to have someone else fry up the cheese for me to consume. I LOVE the saltiness of it all.

  22. Kathy in St. Louis

    Oh, hell yes. I love cheese of all sorts, but I wasn’t familiar with halloumi until a few months ago. The smell of it in a frying pan is unforgettable.

    Reluctant Launderer — I buy mine for about $4 per half-pound piece. I’m scared to ask how cheap yours is.

  23. laurie

    This post is causing serious salivation issues.
    My children (now teenagers) would never eat grilled cheese, mac and cheese, or anything with mayonnaise. Now, sushi, mussels, calamari and artichokes make the cut. Not sure about the foie gras, though.

  24. Stef

    I have been eating this combination of ingredients since 1963. Tomatoes (slightly acidic) feta chunks (salty and sour) red onion slices, salt, pepper, kalamata olives, EVOO, cider vinegar, sprinkle of cayenne pepper and good bread. Let it come to room temp (or you could bake it) and dig in, using the bread to sop up the nectar in the bottom of the bowl. Heaven.

  25. edem

    It is actually not feta cheese, but like feta cheese (more like fresh mozzarella in texture before cooked). Since when you cook feta cheese, regardless of how hard it is, it will melt in to gooey goodness but halloumi will keep its shape. And it originates from Cyprus and not Greece. I cannot imagine it without tomatoes, they are made for each other!

  26. OMG…this looks delicious and really healthy! I’ve just discovered feta – trust me or not, I had never tried it out until a couple of weeks ago!- and I fell in love with it from the very first bite! Now I’m trying to incorporate it into as many recipes as possible, so be sure that I’ll be making this for dinner tonight!

    xo, Elisa

  27. Halloumi, even though a wonderful cheese, is not the classic cheese used for saganaki in Greece. The favorite cheese for saganaki is kaseri, kefalotyri (similar to precorino) or kefalograviera (similar to gruyere). This is my favorite saganaki http://mylittleexpatkitchen.blogspot.nl/2012/04/cheese-saganaki.html
    Also, feta can be used in a saganaki, though in a slightly different manner because of its consistency. Baked feta is a classic dish in Greek cuisine, where we broil it with northern Greek hot red peppers and tomato.
    I love this version you’re sharing here, Deb. Kalamata olives are so briny and vibrant, a great addition!

  28. kefalograviera, kasseri, kefalotyri is usually the cheese used for saganaki BUT halumi is a great substitute, less melty though. There are Greek grocery stores in most large cities that stock their unique sheep’s milk cheeses, so I urge people to find them. They are salty, nutty, yummy goodness. THE perfect shaved topping to a burnt butter pasta-our Greek version of childhood comfort mac n cheese.
    Yassas!

  29. Susan Low

    I have cherry tomatoes and feta in the fridge now… what excellent timing! Sounds yummy and will be made this weekend – we have a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so an extra day off and so extra time to cook.

  30. mhm… feta always reminds me of a nice warm summer afternoon. When u can see the thick heavy summer rain cloud hovering in the far. There is that tension in the air at this time. A good tension though, fresh excitement! That’s it Feta is just like that moment!

    Love the colores, the ingredients and herbs you used. I am tempted to go out and search for feta now.

  31. Don

    If you can get barrel aged feta from a Greek grocery or meat market, then you have hit the mother load. It’s saltier in taste and has incredible flavour when compared to the North American versions. About twice the price, but you only need about a third of the amount to get so much more flavour.

    I’ve attached a link to a flaming saginaki dish http://www.kalofagas.ca/2010/10/02/flaming-cheese-saganaki/
    It also includes a description of five types of firm Greek cheese that can be used.

  32. Don

    While you’re at the Greek grocery store, pick up some Greek oregano, preferably with the stems intact. Just open the cellophane package, turn it upside down and crush some of the oregano and let it fall into your dish. A nice improvement on the standard dried oregano in a jar.

  33. Jeannie

    A local (Wichita KS) Lebanese owned restaurant has a similar item on their appetizer offerings served atop baby spinach and has been a favorite of mine for eons. I had not thought of making it myself .. and I am now flush with fresh tomatoes… off to get the halloumi. Thanks for waking up the brain

  34. anything baked is good for me – but i like tomatoes especially and how they become ever so sweet and juicy when baked. and the addition of feta is just.perfect.

  35. Seeing the beautiful photos, reading and finally eating this end of summer happy little tomatoes salad is so great to finish the not dry summer. I like that it creates a wonderful finish to the memory of summer foods. Heck, maybe it would even be delicious in Winter. Thanks
    AmyRuth

  36. Mary

    The caponata from the grilled eggplant –just make extra for this lovely nosh! We’ve been enjoying that for weeks now, with our abundance of garden tomatoes and eggplant and the addition of crumbled feta (duly surprised no cheese appeared in the original recipe!). This looks divine, as usual. Been following you (and sharing you with everyone I know–nothing but raves) for years now, and finally took time to post a comment. Thank you so much!

    1. deb

      Renee — I think crumbles could work but you’ll get a better texture (dry edges, softer inside) from a block.

      Carrie — I don’t see why not.

      Jason Doege — I use Epicurean cutting boards, which are a wood composite. They’re not terribly pretty, just got lucky with that photo. I am probably the only cook-type on earth who doesn’t use all wood block cutting boards but I have terrible luck with them ending up stinking like old onions, and I have a sensitive nose. Thus, wood composite (which, bonus: dishwasher safe and stink free) instead.

  37. Clermont

    I plan to make this tonight with grilled haloumi. Should I use lemon juice with the haloumi or would that clash with the salad ingredients?

  38. Your photos are gorgeous — I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I love the combination of eggplants, tomatoes and cheese altogether. I never heard of haloumi before and never really paid attention to the kinds of feta cheese, even if I love it. Thanks for the recipe and the info. I’ll have to try this mediterrenean baked feta with tomatoes soon.

  39. Sarah

    I already saws this recipe pinned on Pinterest and I thought, “Wait, how is there such a delicious smitten kitchen recipe that I have never seen before?” now I see it was because I didn’t get here fast enough :)

  40. Lauren

    I made this in my tiny kitchen here in Egypt and, well, I can’t stop eating. Hard super salty feta comes from a barrel here and it doesn’t melt when cooked.

    Added some tiny baby eggplant slices around the edges of the pan as well and they absorbed the juices from the tomatoes. Delish!

  41. We discovered haloumi in Cyprus and regularly just sautee it in a tiny bit of butter. Check to see if you have a Persian market nearby, they often carry it for affordable prices. Also- it’s really quite good cold too, but this looks like a perfect salad for it.

  42. Jess

    Looks yummy. A request: would you mind putting the number of the person’s comment with their name when you answer a question? I think it would be easier to find their question/comment to read that way.

  43. Jo

    Until recently we lived next door to a cheese factory – fresh ricotta on the weekend (still warm), and fantastic (and cheap) halloumi and feta, sold by the block or by the bucket. My partners goto solution for those ‘bring something to share’ work lunches was to grab some halloumi as he walked out the door and grill it to order on the sandwich press at work :)

  44. Here (Argentina) we throw fat rounds of provolone on the grill until it crisps and melts. One version is neapolitan which involves fresh tomatoes and oregano after it´s taken off the grill. It´s probably the most common appetizer before the actual barbecue, which is our main food group, haha. Is halloumi salty but not greasy? Because provolone is amazing, but pure grease…

  45. While feta is well and good, everyone must try grilled or pan-fried halloumi once in life, if not more often. I grew up with halloumi so warm halloumi is like, one of my most favorite things ever.

    Cheese curds are somewhat similar, not quite as salty. They would be a good way to test the waters on grilling cheese!

  46. Oh also, for New Yorkers looking for halloumi: Sahadi’s in Brooklyn Heights has the cheese and at GREAT prices. They have great prices on feta, olives, nuts, dried fruits too. [Not an ad, but a big endorsement of one of my favorite stores in the city.]

  47. Kate

    We made it on the grill tonight, and it was delicious (though we made it with the sweet onions we had on hand). Super easy if you’ve already got the grill going, and perfect for those prolific tomato plants. My family already knows and loves other SK recipes, and they guessed the source of this recipe right away.

  48. An American friend told me last week that it was really hard to get halloumi there. I can’t understand that! Here in London we can buy it at any corner shop. It’s a favourite with people from most of the different cultures that live here. I like it with roast/chargrilled summer vegetables, whatever I’ve picked from my plot – tomatoes, peppers, courgettes. Plenty of mint, lemon juice, olive oil. If you check eatlikeagirl’s blog she has a nice recipe for halloumi with pomegranate molasses.

    It’s also the standard vegetarian alternative at summer barbecues!

  49. Michelle

    Made this yesterday for lunch…was amazing! Hate olives so skipped those but added some basil and it was absolutely delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  50. Zhana

    If you have time, you could take a walk around Astoria. There are tons of Greek stores there and you might be able to find cheaper haloumi than in other places. Also suggest pairing it with grilled zucchini and eggplants. It’s absolutely incredible.

  51. Torinog

    Made the baked version last night. It was delicious but 15 min at 400 was way too short a time to get all the cooking done. Probably ended up baking it for around 30 min to get things roasted looking and have the feta be soft. Again, very tasty though!

  52. I want to ship crates of halloumi to every American household… It’s a London summer staple! Made this tonight but put foil under the halloumi to make sure the oil and melted cheese didn’t go everywhere. Was delicious. Had no oregano so used ripped Basil leaves at the end. Thank you Deb!

  53. Judith

    HI, I’m making this delightful recipe tonight but wondering why you’ve suggested to divide the parsley. Did I miss something???

    1. deb

      Judith — Nope! I forgot to say that you can sprinkle the rest on at the end. Will edit that in now.

      Gabrielle — Thank you!

      Clermont — I’d probably skip it if using the tomato salad because I’m not personally crazy about tomatoes and lemon together. I’d got the lemon + olive oil + pepper approach if not using the salad. But I don’t think it would taste bad, no matter how you spin it. Good luck!

  54. Amy P

    For those of us in Canada, Superstore carries haloumi in their PC brand. I’m not sure how it compares to ‘real’ Greek haloumi, but it’s worth a shot.

  55. Nina

    Deb… couldn’t you do this with home made panir too?? God I love haloumi but it is exorbitantly expensive, at least here. There’s a great restaurant in Arcata, CA that makes a mean grilled haloumi with tzatziki! Cheers!

    1. deb

      Nina — Yes! Paneer would be wonderful. Which reminds me, I couldn’t find haloumi a few weeks ago but found some queso blanco which was a great substitute. (Queso fresco is also delicious, but meltier — not necessarily a bad thing.)

  56. Oh, you are making me lust for summer! I have just planted tomato plants and the jasmine has just started blooming but full flavourful tomatoes are still scarce here. And on a side note, I wish we had cute turquoise boxes for our tomatoes here! I have never seen these!! Sure beats boring plastic containers!!!!!!

  57. Saganaki is one of our favourite meals, definately, special for Vel, who’s half-greek :p
    We normally use feta for kefalotyri is never to be found (at least in Portugal) and haloumi is very expensive…
    This recipe seems perfect for us :)

  58. Ellen

    I think I ate my weight in halloumi a few years ago, while visiting Cyprus. Delish! I think my favorite way to eat is is with watermelon slices. The salty and sweet combo is fabulous.

  59. Christine

    I made this Friday night with halloumi… it was UNREAL. So delicious. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this before.

    Thanks!

  60. Gretchen

    I first met halloumi in Jordan, where it is served grilled and sprinkled with za’atar, with pita for eating, as a mezze. (It is also made into an ersatz panini with mustard and pickles by one of my favorite streetfood kiosks.) I’ve had it with kabob-style with cherry tomatoes and onions (and za’atar) here in NYC and it’s about my favorite thing. The caramelization on the onion and tomato is perfect against the salty cheese.

  61. Shirl

    For those of you looking for Haloumi, try Tropical Queso de Freir (Frying cheese) http://www.tropicalcheese.com/home_ing.htm. a little oil in a non-stick pan creates a wonderful crust. I’ve even rolled slices in panko first (yum). I saw Haloumi on the Food Network, found it at Fairway and after tasting it realized that it was the cheese i’ve eaten for years. Queso de Freir is found at pretty much any bodega in NYC and Met Foods / Associated or any other food market where there is a carribbean/latino population, for a heck of alot less than haloumi (sorry, fancy cheese stores). Dominicans serve it fried w/ salami and mashed platains w/ sauteed red onion. It’s a heavy yet satisfying breakfast, especially after a night of drinking. Deb – I’m a SK junkie. Keep the yummy food coming!

  62. I just made a very hacked version of this recipe and it was delicious! Just the idea of warm feta, roasted tomatoes, herbs, and olive with warm pita bread is amazing!

  63. I made this tonight with some variations; I actually left out the cheese! I made the tomatoes with olives, scallions, parsley, salt & pepper, and mixed it all together with some free-range pork sausage from the farmer’s market, and drizzled it with some balsamic vinegar. (I par-cooked the sausage in a skillet and drained out the fat first.) Then I topped it with a fried egg and it was a spectacular dinner! Thanks for the inspiration!

  64. bethtanya

    On the grill it is a good idea to use a foil pie plate or something similar rather than foil .
    Otherwise, a great recipe. And I don’t even like feta!!!

  65. herbcook

    I love feta, and recently bought a large tub of it at Costco that I needed to do something with. I made this tonight, and, damn, was it delicious! The sweetness of the tomatoes with the salty cheese and briny olives is outstanding. We had this with naan and some chicken with a lemon sauce. It’d be fantastic as a party dish.

  66. I live in Sweden which is apparently third in world haloumi consumption, behind Greece and Turkey. Indeed, there are towers of the stuff in Swedish supermarkets. So while normally I read posts and lament the lack of ingredients available here (really, the lack of a Whole Foods or anything similar), this time I get to gloat about living in haloumi heaven (we have hard winters here, it’s the little things)! I’ll definitely try this baked feta though, it looks like it would be a great starter for a dinner party. Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  67. calli

    Well, saganaki is first and foremost a cooking utensil, a heavy two-handled small frying pan (anything ending with “aki” in Greek is a small version.). My grandmother’s is still in use. You can have cheese, shrimp, mussel, etc, saganaki.The simplest cheese saganaki recipe is nothing but fried cheese; dip it in water, then flour, fry in olive oil, and when soft and gooey, serve with a sprinkle of lemon. More elaborate versions include sesame seeds and/or honey. Then there is baked feta, often with hot peppers, cherry tomatoes and olive oil, wrapped in aluminum foil. As far as grilled cheese, another rubbery when cold, divine when grilled and “melty” Greek cheese is formaela, a semi-hard goat cheese that comes from Arachova, a mountain village near Delphi. I’m not sure you can find it in the States; it too can be fried or baked, but I prefer it grilled.
    And that’s my two cents worth.

  68. Amy

    I tried this the other night and it was SO GOOD. The tomato mixture was so delicious I kept picking bites out of it before it went into the oven! I’m not sure where all that flavor even came from, using such simple ingredients, but it was amazing! My only mistake was that I had a big hunk of cojita cheese hanging around that I knew I wouldn’t use up before it went bad. So I thought, “hm, it’s crumbly and salty and vaguely feta-like, I could probably use it”. *Warning!* — cojita is not really a very good substitute here! It is WAY saltier than feta. It might have worked if I’d used a lot less than 8oz and crumbled it up with the tomatoes rather than keeping it in a block at the bottom. But as a direct substitute? Not so much. The tomato part was still amazing, as long as I was careful to only get a tiny bit of cheese in each bite. I look forward to trying it again with a more appropriate cheese!

  69. You know what’s unattractive, Deb? A grown woman trying to suck the last of the cheese and juices off of the foil. Ok, I didn’t do that, but I sure thought about it ;)
    This is going on our list of upscale camping recipes. It was delicious with a capital D.

  70. Mary

    Just read this post yesterday and went to the local grocery and they had “Haloomi” cheese there, which I am assuming is the same thing? It said great for grilling on the package! I didnt think it would be so easy to find. Can’t wait to try it.

  71. Denise

    I made a version of this last night (grilled haloumi on the barbecue baked it with the tomato mixture on top in the oven at 400). We loved it so much that I bought some more haloumi (not that expensive at Sahadi’s in Brooklyn) and am planning to make it again tonight. Question: Is it really necessary to grill the haloumi? What do you think it adds to the dish? What do you think would happen if I just put the haloumi in the baking dish “raw” with tomato mixture on top, and baked?

  72. Heather

    We used a brownie pan lined with foil to cook this on the grill and still be able to safely wrestle it back inside. Turned out fabulous with some grill toasted sourdough.

  73. Grace

    Deb, I have been coming to your website for the last two years but have never commented, event though, like many other of your readers, I have come to rely on your amazing, failsafe recipes. I made this last night and it was so simple and delicious, so hit-the-spot after a long first day back at work after the summer holidays, that I just had to say thank you – for this and all your other recipes.

  74. NicM

    My tomatoes just started to ripen a week ago so we did this both ways on the grill last night. I prefer the halloumi (love it sauteed with chiles or broiled on top of root veggies too) but the feta was really good too.

  75. Nancy

    Deb,
    Talk about a “feast for the eyes!” This is beautiful. A girlfriend and I visited the Caputo Brothers Creamery for a Farm-to-Table dinner last week and they did the a similar thing with their incredible ricotta. Yummy.

  76. I made this for an appetizer yesterday when my boyfriend wanted a snack. We had some cherry tomatoes leftover from a previous dinner and a bunch of small cubes of feta in the fridge (which we used instead).

    It was absolutely delicious. I can’t stop thinking about it.

  77. Erin

    Holy Smokes!!! This was awesome! I paired it with the thyme and honey flat bread from your website, (which was also very easy to make) and then we grilled some steaks. It was the most amazing dinner we have had in a long time.

    Tonight I’m going to make the barley risotto you made a while back…I’m excited!

  78. Anna

    Oh my goodness, I just learned about halloumi a few weeks ago, and it was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted! We just had it grilled and it was amazing. It’s true, it’s expensive for a small chunk of it. I love it so much, however,that I started looking up recipes on how to just make it. It looks ridiculously easy for such a delicious cheese! Once I can get my hands on some rennet, I’m going to try making it. Maybe I’ll let you know how it goes ;)

  79. Iris

    Excellent taste and beautiful presentation but I found the cherry tomato halves a bit awkward to pile onto pita or crackers. Next time I will either quarter them or use grape tomatoes halved.

  80. Sarah

    I have literally made a version of this dish almost every friday for 10 years. Yes, I’m that boring–yes, it’s that good. I now like to substitute olives for smoked paprika, dried chili peppers, garlic confit and a little zaata, all wrapped together in foil in the oven for 25 minutes. with a sprig of rosemary. It is always everyone’s favorite appetizer.

  81. Courtney

    Made this tonight and it was amazing! I increased the tomatoes, but it could have used even more. I also sliced the feta block lengthwise for a more even tomato-to-cheese coverage ratio. Served with sesame Italian grocery store bread, which I drizzled with olive oil and garlic salt and tossed in the oven for the last 5 minutes or so. Can’t stop singing its praises. Thanks!

  82. I made this the other night and just shared it at My Homespun Home using the grill method (gotta use every last chance I have to grill before it gets too cold/dark). With the leftovers, I even added some walnuts on top when I baked it, and it was fantastic. I agree that doubling the tomatoes is fine, the salt of the olives and cheese will definitely stand up them.

  83. jmarie

    Oh my. I made this today and it was amazing! I would actually double the topping for it (we must like a high tomato:cheese ratio). Otherwise, make it as is and make a second topping fresh to reheat it :)

    I am already thinking of other cheeses that would work well as substitutes. I think cream cheese or brie would be far too gooey, but I’d like something to soften a bit more than the feta…maybe a farmer’s cheese?

  84. 1971Journey

    How about we have a potluck? You guys bring the food and we all can try. The one who win gets a reward and the one who lose get to go home with a big belly.

  85. Barb

    I used this recipe, with chopped up feta, as a pizza topping & it was DELISH! I was experimenting with grilled pizza and needed a topping that could be put on quickly; this one worked perfectly and the pizza got rave reviews! Thanks!

  86. Jessica

    I got a ton of grape tomatoes, fresh parsley, fresh oregano, and red onions from my CSA this week…. Needless to say, this recipe was PERFECT. I used regular feta, and followed the baking instructions… We pretty much inhaled this for lunch today. And I went out to buy more feta so I can have it agin for lunch tomorrow. Soooo good!

  87. Thanks so much for this recipe! I really like Trader Joe’s imported sheep’s milk feta packed in brine, but at 10oz, it’s a big container for just two people to eat and I often find myself with a hunk that goes bad.

    So, tonight I took my leftover hunk of feta (about 7-8 oz) and a package of cherry-sized heirloom tomatoes (16 oz) and made this delightful concoction. Best of all, it won over my picky partner — she was quite skeptical of the finished dish because she expected a cold, salad-type meal but once we dug in with a side of your rosemary flatbread, well, she was definitely a fan. We finished pretty much the whole batch, just the two of us.

    BTW, I did grill this recipe and just tossed the flatbread on there too, although I made the breads thicker, more like naan, and used an oiled grilling grate so the soft dough wouldn’t fall through. Came out perfectly, with lovely charred spots, and was perfect for mopping up the juice from the tomatoes (yum!)

  88. Jenni

    This recipe is great as is! BUT…I had leftovers todays and, since i categorically hate leftovers (no matter how fabulous they are the first time around), I wanted to try to transform this dish so it wouldn’t seem like I was eating the same thing two days in a row. So, I de-cobbed and roasted some fresh corn in the oven. Meanwhile, I caramelized some onions, then threw in a handful of fresh, halved cherry tomatoes. I let these cook slowly together on low heat for about 10 minutes. Then I threw in a handful of diced chicken, seasoned lightly with just salt, pepper, and ground coriander. Once the chicken cooked, I threw in the corn, and the leftovers and let everything blend together over low heat. When it mixed with the juices from the tomatoes, the feta turned into a creamy sauce. I served everything over penne, and it was like a whole new dish! Thanks for the inspiration, Deb!

  89. Desicook

    Love the recipe tho must add to wash the olives as it was too salty with the feta. couldnt find drieed oregano so used fresh basil which worked beautifully

  90. Robert

    You poor poor Americans :-( You really do lack the mediteranian foodstuffs in your supermarkets, don’t you?

    I have been eating Haloumi in Australia since I can remember. You can get it at most supermarkets and every deli. I was a vegetarian for about 9 years growing up, and my mum used to use haloumi slices as an alternative to meat sometimes when we had a BBQ. DEEEEELICIOUS!

    My favourite haloumi recipe that mum makes is very very simple. Blister and peel a couple of capsicums (red peppers), cut into slices, place in a baking dish and then put a layer of lots of flat leaf parsley, then black kalimata olives, then haloumi and lots of olive oil, bake and eat. Mix it up and serve as a warm salad. Yummy.

  91. Mike

    Thanks Deb, I know what I’m making this weekend. Can’t keep up with Cherry toms in garden making last desperation gasp before they wilt away till next summer’s crop. Surplus of wrinkly oil cured olives and Haloumi stashed in back of fridge can’t always find it here south of Boston but a must for grilled Greek Salad see http://www.chow.com/recipes/10924-grilled-greek-salad – along with a tub of Trader J’s Feta and some Kasseri,Greek melting cheese, which I’m still figuring out how to use (first try was very messy on grill probably will work better in oven as in your recipe above).
    One tip I’ve learned is to use those perforated grill pans or baskets for these cheeses to keep the mess down and not stare sadly at cheese going nuclear on bottom of grill when it falls through grates. Easier cleanup and also handy to be able to pull entire batch off at once (time from perfectly charred, almost melty to nugget of burnt coal can be short esp. for Feta – Haloumi much easier). Slice cheese into sticks or planks to max surface area on grill and keep it easy to handle btw just made a batch of your excellent Ratatouille’s Ratatouille last night which is how I found this recipe – only veggies outside of Broccoli I can get our 3 teenage boys to eat , yeah they’re funny when it comes to that. Thanks again!

  92. Anything with feta in it is substanially better than anything without feta :) This meal looks amazing! I swear there has got to be some Greek in me somewhere….

  93. Teresa

    Tried this because I was curious; my 16 yo daughter decided she liked it & admitted it would be one way for her to eat tomoatoes & olives. She’s not really a picky eater but it surprised me how she kept diving into it & then wanted more & more tomatoes. THanks for sharing the recipe

  94. Courtney

    This is amazing! I’ve made it four times since you posted it. Each time I’ve doubled the tomatoes, but otherwise I’ve stuck right to the recipe, and it’s my favorite new find of the summer.

  95. WOW! Made this to go with cocktail hour tonight. So tasty! I made the rosemary flatbreads too and boy were they delicious. I won’t ever need to crave the bread and oil from Macaroni Grill ever again. This flatbread is way better, I love anything crunchy.

  96. I just discovered feta cheese a few months ago and I’ve become a bit addicted to it. The combination of tomatoes and feta is one of my favorites. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try and I encourage anyone who’s shied away from the cheese to give it a try. You may find a love for it you didn’t know you have (as I have!).

  97. Ro

    I had never heard of haloumi cheese before…and just two days ago, I was at my local whole foods store looking around for a new cheese to try out. I spotted haloumi cheese, picked it up, put it down. Then I grabbed some queso fresco and stuffed that in my shopping cart instead. While I like the queso fresco (and love it if you could come up with some interesting recipes for that!!) it looks like I may have chosen poorly two nights ago at the local whole foods store… Will try this haloumi recipe for sure!

  98. Such a great combination, especially with heirloom cherry tomatoes. This is a different animal, but brought to mind a great tomato pie with mozzarella and basil. Might have to make one of those soon. I’ll definitely be trying this, too!

  99. Amanda M.

    You may already know this, but soaking the red onion in red wine vinegar for about a half an hour will get rid of the sharpness. It is a nice way to still use the raw onion without it being too oniony.

  100. Katharina

    Feta cheese + tomatoes, may be my most favourite thing ever. Will try this, it looks delicious. A sort of similar dish, which I tasted for the first time the summer two years ago in Greece, and have since been making regularly, is this: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5754/feta-baked-with-tomato-and-oregano
    It’s great because it’s not as dependent on finding good quality tomatoes, which we are tragically(!) in lack of in Norway. Anyway it’s a great dish, so quick and easy, and tasting it is almost like being in Greece again..

  101. Sara

    Oh my goodness. Thanks to some climate-related oddities in Missouri’s growing season this year, there are still heirloom tomatoes at the farmers’ market near me, so I made this for a dinner party recently. (Full confession: this recipe and the still-in-season tomatoes were the reason for the party, because otherwise I feared I’d eat an entire block of haloumi all by myself.) My guests inhaled it so fast that I barely got to taste it (though trust me, I made sure I did). Brava diva, and congrats on the cookbook!

  102. Brandiann

    I started making this recipe in cooler temperatures, with (sadly) non-seasonal tomatoes, and rather than put it on the grill, I make it in a small cast-iron skillet, which also makes for a pretty presentation with a tea towel on the handle. This is a consistent hit with guests, who dive in and don’t come up for air until it’s gone. Many thanks for a big hit!

  103. Emily

    This was a HUGE hit last night at a beach picnic- rave reviews all around! I used the foil-packet-on-the-barbecue method (the packet was off to the side while some veggies grilled at medium heat) and at 15 minutes the feta was soft and tomatoes were just starting to release their juices. Definitely needed double foil as the juices began to bubble up.

    To serve, tossed fresh parley & basil on top, put the packet in a leak-proof container and took off for the beach. Half an hour later it was warm and amazing on Deb’s rosemary flatbread. I’d skip sprinkling salt flakes on the flatbread if you plan to serve both, though, as the combination was a bit too salty (possibly my olives/feta were above average in sodium?)

  104. emilia

    my sister made this dip the other night and we loved it, but couldnt finish it all. the next night for dinner, we tossed warm quinoa with fresh spinach, then added the feta and mixings on top. we added a few squirts of lemon juice and some olive oil. it was AMAZING.

  105. Ann

    hi deb, hope you’re staying cool in ny! one of my favorite restaurants serves something similar with a metaxa brandy over the cheese so that it caramelizes the edges of the feta. in that case, would you omit the wrapping of the foil and roast the tomatoes separately?

    1. deb

      Ann — It’s hard to say because I haven’t tried it this way. But if they just cook the cheese with the brandy and you want their flavor, I’d keep the tomatoes separate. If you wouldn’t mind if the tomatoes mingle, leave them in.

  106. Laurel

    wonder if this could be adapted to firm tofu (maybe soaking in a brine solution to “salt” it up first) ?? anyone have any ideas/feedback?

  107. Jenny

    Deb! Saw your FB post of this today and am headed to the store for ingredients. Any favorite roses? I’ve never tried one, and I think it’s time to fix that!

    1. deb

      Jenny — Well, this will upset wine people who expect non-experts to be able to walk into stores and assess hundreds of bottles for the right one, but I find it I limit my rosé hunt to the French section, especially Cotes de Provence and others from around there, I am almost never disappointed as my goal is something light and crisp. Spanish rosados are pinker and pretty, but I often find ones that are fruitier than I prefer. (And sometimes I like them more, but it’s more of a roulette for me.) I’ve had very good Italian roses at restaurants but don’t have buying them in a store down to a science yet. (Again, just a higher degree of roulette. However, I’m trying to track down the name of an amazing one we had last weekend for you. And me.) What? Me think about rosé a lot? Nah.