Hear me out: there’s simply nothing better than the perfect sandwich for lunch. You have variety, flavor, texture, and carbs, all wrapped up in a hand-held, neatly wrapped package.
That package is bread, of course, and we cannot beat that. When it comes to vegetarian sandwiches they can sometimes feel a little…lackluster. But not here, my friend. And especially not with this halloumi sandwich.
It’s bursting with flavor from homemade romesco sauce (one of our favorites), fresh greens and a peppery bite from arugula, and chewy, crisp ciabatta rolls. But the star? That warm, perfectly grilled with its crisp-exterior and melty, creamy interior: halloumi cheese.
What is Halloumi?
Head on over to my post all about halloumi to learn more.
In short, halloumi cheese is from Cyprus. It’s semi-hard with a unique texture in that it has a really high melting point, so it holds its shape when it’s cooked.
And when it’s cooked, usually grilled or pan-seared, the exterior gets crisp and the inside gets warm and gooey. It’s a wonderful contrast, and the salty, squeaky cheese is one of a kind.
The base ingredients for this sandwich are pretty straightforward, they’re simple and if you already have the romesco sauce prepped, it all comes together really quickly. And then, there are quite a few ingredients you can add in addition, too! Bonus!
- Halloumi Cheese: find it packaged at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or ALDI. You can also head to a local Mediterranean or Greek deli. In larger cities, you’ll be able to find it in more common grocery stores, too.
- Ciabatta Bread or Ciabatta Rolls: there’s just something about the chewiness and crisp exterior of ciabatta. I love using rolls to make life really easy, but a loaf of bread will work as well. Don’t have ciabatta? Look for a hearty sourdough loaf.
- Arugula: a bright, peppery green that makes a lovely addition to the sandwich. Microgreens would be another texture-filled and nutrient-rich addition if you have them available to you.
- Romesco Sauce: oh, this sauce is very, very lovely bursting with umami from sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs.
If making romesco specifically for the sandwich, reduce the salt to balance out the saltiness from the halloumi cheese.
If you are looking to add more to the sandwich, these are all delicious, too!
- Fresh tomato or cucumber slices
- Roasted red pepper (yep, if you love ’em add more!)
- Caramelized or grilled onions
- Grilled eggplant
- Smashed white beans
- Add fresh basil
How to Make a Halloumi Sandwich
This couldn’t be easier, my friends. I mentioned that you will have to have the romesco sauce made ahead of time to keep things speedy (or use storebought, but trust me on the homemade route). The good news? Even if you don’t already have it made, it comes together in just about 5 minutes in the food processor.
Prepare the Ingredients
It’s important to have your sandwiches mostly assembled before you cook the halloumi. Halloumi is best served immediately after cooking, otherwise, the texture can become rubbery. Making sure everything is in its place so once it’s ready you can assemble and eat will prevent any such problem.
- Cut the ciabtta rolls in half, or cut a loaf of ciabatta bread in roll-sized sections and proceed to cut it in half. Make it extra fancy and toast the bread first.
- Spread romesco sauce on each side of the bread.
- Add a handful of greens to each slice. I like a lot of greens; feel free to adjust the amounts as you prefer.
- If adding sliced avocado or another item, prepare it and layer it on one side of the bread (I prefer the top).
How to Cook Halloumi
For this sandwich, I prefer to pan-fry the halloumi, although you can also grill (or grill pan) it, too.
Once you take halloumi out of its package, I recommend patting it dry so it is able to get a good sear on it. Then, slice it up. You can really slice it, either way, you’d like, but for ciabatta rolls, I find it easiest to slice it lengthwise so the slices are in big rectangles, as opposed to the short way and small rectangles.
Again, either method works, you’ll just have to add several small rectangles of cheese to your sandwich if you slice it that way.
Now, to pan-fry the halloumi, brush the sides of each slice with a little oil. A neutral, high-heat oil or olive oil works well. You may way to drizzle a little in the bottom of your skillet too, especially if you’re using a cast iron pan that’s not well seasoned, or a stainless steel pan. You can also grill the halloumi or use a grill pan.
Once the pan is hot over medium-high high, lay the slices evenly across the pan. Cook on each side just for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
Don’t overcook the halloumi – and serve it right away – to prevent it from becoming rubbery.
Assemble, and enjoy!
Once both sides of the halloumi are golden brown, transfer it immediately onto the sandwich. Put the two slices of bread together and voila, your sandwich is ready to be enjoyed!
While I fully enjoy this sandwich on its own, if you’re looking to add to a more complete sandwich meal, you might want to add one of these soup or salad recipes alongside it, and feel like you’re at a real cafe!
Halloumi is most often made with vegetarian rennet, making it a wonderful vegetarian cheese option. As always, be sure to check the package of the specific product you use.
I recommend only cooking as much halloumi as you’ll use for the sandwiches, and storing any remaining slices wrapped, in the fridge, for 1-2 days. Keep romesco sauce in a jar in the fridge, as well as arugula, and store leftover rolls wrapped at room temperature (or freeze them).
You can absolutely make the romesco sauce ahead of time, but I don’t recommend cooking the halloumi until you’re ready to eat it so it’s warm and melty (and doesn’t get rubbery).
Yes, you can, but it’s best when enjoyed freshly cooked because of how the texture changes. Cooking it also mellows out the saltiness.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Halloumi Sandwich with Romesco
- If not already storebought or homemade, prepare the romesco sauce. I halve the amount of salt if I'm making it specifically for these sandwiches since the halloumi is already pretty salty.
- Slice the ciabatta rolls, if needed, and spread approximately ½ Tablespoon of romesco sauce on each half. Top each half with arugula, and any additional toppings you're using.
- Cook halloumi: Remove the block of halloumi from the package and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the block into slices lengthwise, so you have a large rectangle. I prefer about 1/2-inch slices.
- Brush both sides of the slices with oil until coated. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. If using a grill pan, stainless steel, or a not-well-seasoned cast iron, I also like to brush oil on the pan.
- Place the slices evenly across the pan. Sear until golden brown, around 1-2 minutes, then flip and sear the second side, again until golden brown, around 1-2 minutes. Some liquid may sizzle out of the slices; it will quickly evaporate and then the side will turn golden.
- Remove from the pan and top on the sandwiches. Serve immediately.
- The size of your halloumi block may vary, depending on where you purchase it. The cooking instructions are the same either way and cook time will depend on how thick you slice it.
- Serving size: you can easily make just 1 or 2 sandwiches or more as needed!