These grilled vegetable skewers with harissa-marinated halloumi are made with pieces of grilled pepper, mushroom, asparagus, and onion interspersed with chunks of grill-friendly Greek cheese tossed in a spicy paste. Here’s how to make them.
A couple of the niftiest cooking tricks we know are at play in these grilled vegetable skewers with harissa-marinated halloumi. Actually, they aren’t so much techniques as ingredients. The first, harissa, is a Moroccan spice paste that lends an intriguing heat to anything. The second, halloumi, is a firm, salty Greek cheese that’s sufficiently sturdy to withstand the rigors of the grill while becoming sorta melty and stringy while not entirely collapsing. Intrigued? You should be.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Grilled Vegetable Skewers with Harissa-Marinated Halloumi
- 6 to 8 metal or wooden skewers, soaked (if wooden)
- 4 tablespoons good-quality store-bought or homemade harissa paste
- 4 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 14 ounces halloumi
- 4 ounces red bell pepper seeded (1 pepper)
- 1 medium red onion
- 16 button or cremini mushrooms stems removed if desired
- 6 asparagus spears cut into thirds
- Salt to taste
- A handful chopped mint
- A generous pinch chopped fresh oregano oregano (optional)
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- Leaves from 1 bunch fresh ﬂat-leaf parsley chopped
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce shredded
- 1/2 cucumber ﬁnely diced
- 6 ripe tomatoes diced
- 3 lemons cut into wedges, for squeezing
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- Toasted pita
- Preheat the grill to 400°F (204°C). Alternatively, you can heat a grill pan over medium-high or preheat the broiler to high.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the harissa and olive oil.
- Cut the halloumi into 12 to 16 chunks. Add the halloumi to the bowl and toss until coated.
- Cut the bell pepper into chunks about the same size as the mushrooms. Thickly slice the onion or cut it into similarly sized chunks.
- Thread the halloumi and vegetables onto the prepared skewers, alternating between different ingredients or, to ensure even cooking and the ability to take things off the grill as they’re done, thread the halloumi and individual vegetables on separate skewers. If you’re doing this, make sure to leave a little space between the pieces of halloumi so the edges cook.
- Place the skewers on a plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook on the preheated grill or grill pan or under the broiler until the halloumi has started to char, then turn once to cook the other side, removing from the heat as soon as the halloumi is golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Ideally, you want the halloumi to be slightly charred on the outside yet stringy on the inside.
- Stack the vegetable skewers on a platter and, if desired, scatter with the chopped mint and/or oregano. Serve with any accompaniments of your choice, if using.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Having just come home from the grocery store with two of my favorite ingredients, halloumi cheese and spicy harissa paste, I couldn’t pass up combining the two ingredients in this unique vegetarian skewer recipe! The joy of halloumi cheese lies not only its salty flavor but its ability to stand up to heat on the grill; the joys of harissa paste lie in its inherent spiciness and versatility. Although I had never combined the two in one dish, they paired together beautifully and made for a brilliant skewer.
I served these skewers alongside lemon- and garlic-marinated chicken breasts that we grilled along with a rice pilaf with peas and almonds. The veggies I had on hand to pair with the halloumi and harissa souvlaki were button mushrooms, cucumbers, and quartered tomatoes.
I garnished the cooked souvlaki with fresh oregano leaves I had on hand; I did not serve them with any of the optional accompaniments, I didn’t think they needed much else.
I cooked them on my trusty indoor grill pan. I marinated the cheese pieces in the oil and harissa mixture for just a minute or so; in Step 3 it says to season the skewers with a pinch of salt and that is important I think. Since the cheese is inherently salty and the harissa paste as well, only a pinch is needed here, mainly on the veggies. I cooked the skewers for 2 minutes per side, flipping once. The cheese at this point was a lovely shade of ‘grilled’ and the veggies with perfectly grilled as well; still a bit of crunch left in the cucumber slices, but the tomatoes were soft and juicy as were the mushrooms. Overall, we really loved this recipe! A brilliant way to combine two fantastic ingredients.
When I read this recipe, I instantly thought “Yay! A use for my harissa…” The cheese had crispy edges but was only creamy inside for a few minutes while warm. The firmer version of the grilled halloumi was still very enjoyable and the flavors and colors were so captivating. There were no leftovers after a dinner for 3.
We had these on a Monday and when I asked for my husband’s feedback, he verbalized his pleasure but that he was surprised we were not having our usual meatless Monday. This is a meatless dinner that eats like chicken!
I had forgotten that I’d used my bamboo skewers to stake my tomato seedlings so I used my double-prong metal skewers. By the time I had prepped my veggies, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to fit all the veggies on the skewers. To accommodate the double prongs, I cut my veggies and cheese in larger chunks. I used sweet onion, cremini mushrooms, asparagus, and mini bell peppers in yellow, orange, and red. The veggies that didn’t fit on the skewers were grilled loose on the grill pan.
I set the grill to 400°F and the veggies and cheese had a nice char after 4 minutes per side. As an accompaniment, I grilled pieces of ciabatta brushed with garlic pesto and sprinkled with mozzarella and served the skewers and veggies with salad greens, yellow tomatoes, and a bowl of loose labneh for dipping the veggies.
This is a really easy recipe to put together when you’re looking for something quick, but still impressive, to throw on the grill. I used the ingredients mentioned in the recipe because that’s what I had on hand; I don’t know that I would substitute in subsequent servings as I enjoyed them this way.
I made the homemade harissa from this site and was quite pleased with it.
I tossed it with 16 pieces of halloumi and let that sit while I chopped the veggies. I used my cast iron grill pan, threading the skewers while it heated on the stovetop. The only difficulty that I had with this recipe was that my halloumi melted before the veggies were cooked as much as I would have liked. Because of the time of year, the asparagus was rather thick and I may have cut the red pepper a little too big in my excitement to eat salty melted cheese. The veggies were cooked but I would have preferred a few more minutes to get them actually “grilled.” Luckily, undercooked vegetables are still excellent and the halloumi was cooked perfectly.
I served these with warm flatbread, tzatziki, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes.
Because I am here in very urban America, I had to use a broiler instead of a grill, and yet, apart from losing the lovely grill marks in the photo, my skewers were every bit as appealing as those in the accompanying photo!
My button mushrooms were on the large side, so I cut them in half, and my onions could have been cut into slightly smaller strips as they would have been a little better if they had been cooked a little more, but there were no leftovers, a sure sign of success.
We skipped the accompaniments, and served the skewers with a lentil kale quinoa soup, which rounded out the meal with an additional protein, another green, and a grain. We had generous servings of soup and one skewer each, which was perfect along with warm pita on the side. These would also be tasty atop a simple green salad, using some or all of the suggested accompaniments.
I have made halloumi from scratch, and would have loved to have had this recipe then. It shows off halloumi’s fine high melting point that allows it to retain its shape while charring beautifully, and takes the blob of somewhat rubbery white cheese and turns it into a beautiful golden chunk of deliciousness, with an appealing crispy exterior juxtaposed against a warm interior.
My friend just made halloumi on the barbecue and was really pleased so of course I had to try this dish!
I couldn’t find harissa paste to save my life but I did find the dried guajillo chilies so I made the recommended harissa paste recipe (it was so delicious, my morning eggs will now be 100 times better).
We all really enjoyed the skewers but found them to be a tad bit salty. If eaten with pieces of the veggies, that help cut it down a bit. I did have a hard time grilling them as the veggies and cheese didn’t all touch the grill at the same time so next time I will definitely pay more attention to making sure everything is the right height.
Originally published June 28, 2020