There are nearly as many types of halloumi salad as there are ways of preparing the fragrant cheese. Most salads fall into four main categories: those made with fried halloumi, those made with grilled halloumi, those made with baked halloumi, and those made with the cheese in its raw state. Cooks are often very creative with their salad preparation. Lettuce is usually a staple, but not always. Some salads are based on fruit selections or combine tomatoes, olives, and pasta.
Halloumi is one of many Mediterranean types of cheeses, and as such, it pairs well with most flavors from that region. It is a traditional food of Cyprus, an island nation situated between Egypt and Turkey. Cooks there often pair the cheese with savory ingredients like roasted vegetables, cured meats, and all varieties of olives to produce a range of salad options. Halloumi's popularity has spread throughout southern Europe and the Middle East and is commonly available in markets the world over. The different types of halloumi salad available on a global scale tend to reflect a great number of individual cooks' culinary tastes and traditions.
As far as cheeses go, halloumi is among the more flexible. It is made by blending sheep and goat’s milk, and is fermented to have a very low moisture content. This means that it holds it shape well, even when exposed to high temperatures. Cooks can successfully grill, fry, and bake the cheese with relative simplicity.
Fried halloumi salad is an easy type of salad to master. Most cooks fry small cubes or strips of the cheese in olive oil, then sprinkle it on salads as a garnish. It does best on warm salads, particularly those incorporating wilted greens or hot vegetables. Allowing fried cheese to cool often leaves a greasy residue, and much of the initial crispness is lost with time.
A halloumi salad made with grilled strips of cheese is a bit more flexible. Many cooks use grilled cheese in cold Mediterranean-style pasta salads, or incorporate it as a festive addition to ordinary green salads. When braised with honey or balsamic vinegar, the cheese makes a fine salad pairing for fig, melon, or other tender fruits. It can also be stacked with tomato and cured meats as a visually appealing, as well as delicious, first course.
Baked halloumi is generally used as a salad centerpiece, but it is also often stuffed inside of vegetables or flattened meats. Creative cooks may also bake round coins of the cheese to serve as warmed toppings for a variety of different salads. Baked halloumi salad is commonly served with eggplant, chickpeas, and tomatoes.
Perhaps the simplest kind of halloumi salad makes use of the cheese in its raw form. The cheese does not generally crumble well, but small pieces can be broken off and added to nearly any sort of salad to add unique flavor and a surprisingly creamy texture. Raw cheese is often marinated before use, but is perfectly acceptable on its own, as well.