Why It Works
- Cubes of non-melting halloumi cheese make a surprising pizza topping.
- Adding mint leaves after cooking keeps it fresh and bright.
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 I made grilled chicken with za'atar) 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.
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!
1 recipe Neapolitan pizza dough or 2 pounds store-bought pizza dough
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into small chunks, drained
12 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into small cubes
1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup green olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, light green and white parts only
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup roughly torn fresh mint leaves
Divide dough into 4 equal parts and place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or a zipper-lock freezer bag. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours before baking.
Adjust oven rack to 6 inches under broiler and place stone or steel on rack. Preheat oven to highest possible temperature (500 or 550°F/260 or 290°C) for at least 45 minutes.
When ready to bake, turn one dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press out dough into a rough 8-inch circle, leaving the outer 1 inch higher than the center. Gently stretch dough into a 10- to 12-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick, by draping over knuckles and gently stretching. Transfer to floured wooden pizza peel.
Preheat broiler to high. Spread 1/4 of mozzarella over pizza, followed by 1/4 of halloumi, 1/4 of tomatoes, 1/4 of olives, and 1/4 of scallions. Sprinkle lightly with salt and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Transfer pizza to hot stone or steel and broil, rotating regularly for even cooking, until edges are puffed and lightly charred and bottom is crisp, 3 to 6 minutes total. Retrieve pizza with a metal peel and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to rest 1 minute. Sprinkle with 1/4 of mint, slice, and serve. Meanwhile, switch oven back to 550°F to reheat stone for remaining pizzas.
Repeat steps 3 through 5 for remaining pizzas.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 49g||63%|
|Saturated Fat 20g||98%|
|Total Carbohydrate 77g||28%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 15mg||77%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|