The Santa Monica farmer’s market has a fish vendor who I’ve gotten very fresh fish from a few times. I was craving shrimp so I bought a bag as I was leaving the market with my heirloom tomatoes and other green goodies. Making a stop by Bay Cities I bought halloumi for the first time, planning to fry them in a pan as I’ve seen others do. Always looked delicious to me but never got around to trying it. This would be the moment.
But then when I came home as I was strolling through the net I came across a recipe for Halloumi Saganaki with Tomato Sauce & Shrimp. Perfect – a dish I can use the shrimp, halloumi and Persian mint in! I served this dish after the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad, also a product of the same farmer’s market trip.
I’m usually not great with spontaneous meals but this lunch worked out great. The salad was a great summery appetizer and the saganaki was a great second course with the very fresh and delicious shrimp.
The only problem I had was with my broiler not giving off screaming hot heat consistently. You see, I have an electric stove. The horrors! That’s why you see the cheese is not the prettiest of crunchy brown. I was afraid the shrimp might get overcooked while I waited for my stupid broiler to do its job right. At any rate, the saganaki was delicious. The best part was the nicely browned corners of the cheese that gave a nice crunch. Oooh I love a cheesy crunch.
Halloumi Saganaki With Tomato Sauce and Shrimp
Recipe by Melody Dosch, owner of The Artisan Cheese Gallery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 can (14.5 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, diced, with their liquid
½ cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ lb large (21-30 per lb) shrimp, deveined and peeled but with the tail left on
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 sprig fresh mint, leaves removed and torn into pieces
½ lb Cypriot halloumi cheese, cut into 1-inch dice
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the garlic and shallot in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, oregano, and half the salt, bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low and simmer briskly until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf and keep the sauce hot over low heat.
Preheat broiler on highest setting.
Season shrimp with remaining tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, remaining salt, half of the ground cinnamon, and half of the mint. Toss well. Heat a flame-proof, oven-proof 10-inch pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Turn off heat and put shrimp in pan in a single layer. Cover with one cup of the hot tomato sauce (reserve any remaining sauce for other uses) and top with the halloumi and remaining ground cinnamon. Place under broiler and cook until the cheese caramelizes, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining mint and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
*My notes – I didn’t leave the cinnamon stick in for the whole time the sauce was simmering because I didn’t want the flavor to be too strong. And I didn’t marinate the shrimp with the ground cinnamon either. I cut the halloumi cheese into slices so increase the surface area and so I could cover the top of the saganaki more. I used Persian mint because that’s what I picked up at the farmer’s market and used dried oregano instead of fresh because that’s what I happened to have at home. Remember to save the shrimp shells and freeze it in a ziplock bag so you can make stock later. Serve the saganaki with some really good bread to soak up the sauce. Hmm i think that’s it. Enjoy!