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HALLOUMI WITH CAPONATA AND PESTO

Updated: Feb 6


SERVES 2 | PREPARATION TIME: 15 MINUTES | COOKING TIME: 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES


Maria Broadbent was Chef/Owner of the very popular CASA restaurant in Bury St. Edmunds when she created this beautiful dish. Maria said: “This dish was based on a delicious burrata I had at the top of a Swiss mountain. With halloumi, the combination of salty, sweet, slightly sharp and creamy flavours is extremely satisfying. The Cyprus Village halloumi from OliveOlive has a superior taste and texture to any other halloumi I’ve tasted.” INGREDIENTS 1 block of Cyprus Village halloumi cheese

For the caponata

3 medium aubergines, cut into 1.5cm dice

2 red onions or 4 large shallots, peeled and diced

30g caster sugar

6 stalks of celery, cut into 0.5cm dice

Generous handful of capers

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1.5kg cherry tomatoes

100ml red wine vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

Handful of basil leaves

For the pesto

50g pine nuts, plus extra for garnish

50g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, diced

80g basil (reserve tips for garnish)

2 cloves of garlic


METHOD

For the caponata

Preheat the oven to 160°c/140°c fan/Gas Mark 3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based, preferably non-stick pan and fry the diced aubergine in batches. This way you don’t lose the heat and they will brown nicely. Drain the fried aubergine on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil, as aubergines can soak up quite a bit.

Add the onions to the pan with a little more oil if needed. Fry gently until softened, then add the caster sugar and allow the onions to caramelise. Add the diced celery and capers, cook until soft and glossy, then transfer the mixture to a roasting tray.

Stir in the cooked aubergine, scatter over the garlic and cherry tomatoes, then pour the red wine vinegar over the mixture. Season with salt and pepper then place the tray in the preheated oven. Cook for around 1 hour, until the mixture stops looking watery but the tomatoes still have some shape. Give everything a good stir then tear over the basil leaves and fold them in. This makes quite a generous portion, but it freezes beautifully and is also delicious with lamb.

For the pesto

Toast all the pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat, or on a tray in the oven. Put 50g into a blender, liquidiser or small food processor. Blitz until quite smooth but with colour and texture. Add the cheese, basil, olive oil and garlic then blitz again to your preferred consistency.

To cook the halloumi, either heat a griddle pan without oil, or heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Slice or cube the halloumi, then place it into the pan to griddle or fry over a medium heat. It should soften and brown but not spread.

Place the caponata on the plates, layer on the halloumi, then spoon over the pesto. It is very pungent so don’t go mad! Garnish with the basil tips and a scattering of pine nuts that give a fabulous crunch. The remaining pesto is great with pasta!

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