Let Halloumi Take Over Your Next Pizza Party

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

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Halloumi is a killer topping for pizza. [Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

I've written a few times about my Lebanese friend. You know, the one who delivered a half-dozen varieties of za'atar to me and who came up with the genius idea of putting halloumi cheese into pancakes. Whether it's through his own innate mental capacities or perhaps through some chemically inspired bouts of clarity, he has a knack for coming up with flavor combinations that simply don't come naturally to me. But more often than not, I hear him describe them and I say to myself, that's so crazy it just might work!

To be fair, this particular flavor combination is not all that crazy. Sweet tomatoes, briny olives, and cheese are a natural and common pairing, as is the addition of fresh herbs like mint. The concept of putting halloumi on pizza, however, is something that would never have occurred to me.

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I'm glad he suggested it, because it works pretty darn well. One caveat: Early on in experimentation mode, I tried making a few pizzas using halloumi as the only cheese, and it's not a good idea. Halloumi doesn't melt or spread the way you want pizza cheese to. Instead, it's better to think of halloumi as another topping, scattering little cubes of it on top of a base of melty mozzarella.

Everything else is pretty much elementary. The only preparation I do for the tomatoes, mint, olives, and scallions also featured on this pizza is to chop them.

The best part is that this pizza happens to be the ideal food to satisfy the cravings you get when your mind has been expanded to the state that allowed it to come up with the idea in the first place. Win win!