Whilst wondering the narrow old streets of the Cretan town of Rethymno we stumbled across a fascinating building that stated it was a restaurant, yet all we could see was an archway carved into the thick stone at the front of the building with a red carpet stretching back into the depths. Strewn on the red carpet were bougainvillea flowers which had fallen from the tree growing up the side of the building. It was beautiful and instantly made me want to see what else this place had to offer. The red carpet led you through the building and back out the other side into a magical courtyard full of flowers, plants and fairy lights with each table lit by candlelight. This dish was one of the first ones we had as part of our mezze sharing platter and quickly became another firm new favourite of mine, although it didn’t come with the aubergine – that is an addition of my own.
Grilled Halloumi with Tomato and Roasted Aubergine Recipe, Serves 2-3
2 large beefsteak tomatoes (or 4 smaller plum tomatoes)
200g halloumi cheese
Chunky sourdough bread to serve
For the dressing:
1 egg yolk
1 gherkin finely diced
10 capers, finely diced
2tbsp brine from the gherkin jar
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
For the thyme-roasted aubergine:
1 large aubergine, cut into chunky ‘chips’
1tbsp olive oil
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt to taste
2tsp good quality honey
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.
- Inside a large, foil-covered roasting tin place the oil, thyme, seasoning and aubergine ‘chips’, stir to coat then put into the oven for 30 minutes, checking a stirring regularly.
- In the mean time, make the dressing by blending the egg, yolk, honey, gherkin brine and enough oil a little at a time until a runny mayonnaise consistency is reached. Stir in the seasoning and chopped gherkins, oregano and capers and set aside in the fridge to chill.
- Once the aubergine chips are cooked, drizzle over 1tbsp honey and place back into the oven at 250 degrees to crisp up but keep an eye out so as not to burn them.
- Once cooked and slightly burnished, remove the aubergine from the oven and set aside.
- Cut the tomatoes and halloumi into slices about 1/2 centimetre thick and heat a large non-stick grill pan on a high heat.
- Add the tomatoes and grill until slightly burnished but not too soft, remove and set aside.
- Turn the heat down slightly and grill the halloumi until softened and starting to melt.
- To assemble, stack the halloumi on top of the tomato slices, drizzle over a tablespoon or two of your dressing and serve with the aubergine chips and some chunky sourdough bread.