This simple and delicious sandwich is one I associate with summers in Lebanon, sitting by the pool with my friends Jacqueline and Anne-Marie Bassoul and the rest of the gang; we would order it every single day after a swim. Crispy and gooey with the softened white cheese inside, our Lebanese quesadillas!
What type of cheese to use?
Halloumi or Nabulsi for stuffing your quesadillas.
What is halloumi cheese? It is a hard white cheese, originally from Cyprus.
What about nabulsi? It is a cheese from Palestine (Nablus), with a very similar texture to halloumi; it is made in Turkey as well.
They can be eaten as is; but the best way is fried in some butter, or stuffed in bread and fried in butter.
I know what you are thinking! What about diet, cholesterol and all these other very depressing and annoying topics! I am not saying go ahead and snarf a dozen of these! (moderation)
Where can you find these? Middle-eastern grocers for one, but I have seen halloumi in American supermarket chains as it is fast becoming mainstream!
The neat thing about these cheeses is that you can freeze them for a few months and defrost at room temperature or in the microwave.
If the cheese is too salty for your taste (it is for mine) then just soak it in a bowl of fresh water and change the water often, until the taste of salt has receded; it could take from 15 minutes total to 2 hours of soaking and changing the water.
This sandwich required an extra-thin pita bread; if the pitas available are rather thick, then use flour tortillas instead.
INGREDIENTS: 3 to 4 servings
- 6 small and thin pita breads or flour tortillas
- Halloumi cheese or Nabulsi
- Clarified butter as needed
- One or two large tomatoes
- some mint
- Soak the cheese if you find it too salty: Place the cheese in a bowl of fresh water and change the water every 15 minutes until the saltiness is gone.
- Pat dry and slice the cheese in thin slices; Insert the slices in the opened pitas and press firmly.
- Melt 1/4 cup of clarified butter; heat for 3 minutes till frothy and slide the pita in the skillet. Let it fry for 3 minutes then flip on the other side and fry for two more minutes.
- Remove from the skillet onto paper towels and pat the excess butter out; transfer to a cutting board and slice in triangles, about 4 per person. Serve piping hot with some fresh tomato quarters.
NOTE: The cheese is not going to melt into a soupy mess; it will soften but keep its texture.
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