Halloumi, where have you BEEN all of my life?! Besides, you know, Cyprus. Apparently. This was my second time using this glorious Cyprian cheese, and I have a feeling I’ll be buying a lot more of it in the coming months. I’ve never been to Cyprus, but given its ties to the Greek world—trade networks between Cyprus and Greece existed even as far back as the fourteenth century BC—and the similarities among various types of Mediterranean cuisines, I’m surprised that I never encountered or even heard of halloumi during my time spent in the Mediterranean.
I did, however, encounter plenty of stuffed peppers while I was in Greece. At restaurants, my roommate and I would sometimes order two dishes and then split them—one “safe” dish we knew we’d like, and one more adventurous dish. It was our way of getting to try various local delicacies while ensuring we wouldn’t go hungry if we found neither to our liking. Stuffed peppers was one of our favorite “safe” dishes. It was a good system, since…well, let’s just say, octopus is really not my thing.
While many stuffed peppers incorporate ground beef, these are a bit lighter—most of those I had in Greece were vegetarian and I wanted to stick to that. Slivered almonds and halloumi supply the protein, with the almonds adding some nice crunch as well.
- 4 large green peppers
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 6 ounces halloumi
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- black pepper
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sauté chopped onions until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add salt, rice, and tomatoes, with juice. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, until water has been absorbed and rice is soft.
- While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash peppers, cut off tops (set these aside—do not discard), and remove seeds. Submerge green peppers for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- Cut halloumi into small cubes. Once rice is done cooking, remove from heat and add halloumi, slivered almonds, and dried basil. Add pepper to taste. Stir until combined.
- Fill peppers with rice mixture and place tops of peppers back on. Arrange in a baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.