Pan fried haloumi with lemon and parsley

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Haloumi is a sightly salty, semi-hard cheese that has its origins in Cyprus. It is at its best when cooked, and the Mediterranean flavours of lemon, parsley and olive oil are wonderful accompaniments. Good quality extra virgin olive oil and beautifully fresh lemons are the secret to really making this dish sing, so use the best that you can afford. This recipe is fantastic as a starter, or with drinks before a casual dinner with friends. I recommend a crisp sauvignon blanc or a gin and tonic. We are blessed to have close friends who own a vineyard – Symphony Hill – and they make a spectacular sauvignon blanc, which is one of our favourite wines, so I may be a teeny bit biased with that suggestion!

Serves 4 as a starter, or with drinks.

180g haloumi
finely grated rind of one lemon
1 tablesoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablesoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon cut into wedges, to serve

Cut the block of haloumi into 8 even slices. The size doesn’t really matter and depends a bit on the shape of your piece of cheese but the pieces should be about 5 mm in thickness. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan until it is quite hot. Place the haloumi in the pan and cook on each side until golden. It should only take about 1 minute per side. Any more and you will have rubbery cheese. Take out of the pan and drain for a moment on absorbent paper. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle over the parsley and lemon rind. Season with a good gind of the black pepper and serve immediately with the lemon wedges on the side. Squeeze on some lemon juice, spear with a fork and eat up.

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