Updated: Mar 25
As a chef, I have a deep appreciation for simple yet delicious food that can be enjoyed on-the-go. That’s why I want to share my recipe for a Vegetarian Souvlaki that is bursting with flavour and juiciness. This dish features halloumi cheese, balsamic roasted aubergine, sun-dried tomato tapenade, and a tangy tzatziki sauce, all wrapped in a warm and fluffy Greek Flatbread. Don't wait and prepare your Souvlaki today!
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What is Souvlaki?
Souvlaki is a Greek dish consisting of small pieces of meat that are marinated and skewered, then grilled or fried. It is usually served with a variety of accompaniments such as pita bread, tzatziki sauce, onions, and tomatoes. Souvlaki is a versatile dish that can be made with a variety of meats, including chicken, beef, pork, or lamb.
The history of souvlaki dates back to ancient Greece where the dish was a popular street food for soldiers and workers. In those times, the meat was cooked on a skewer over an open flame, and it was a convenient and tasty way to feed a large number of people quickly and easily. Over time, souvlaki evolved and became a staple in Greek cuisine, and today it can be found in taverns and restaurants throughout Greece and beyond.
There are several different varieties of souvlaki, each with its own unique flavour profile. Some of the most popular varieties include chicken souvlaki, which is marinated in lemon and olive oil, and pork souvlaki, which is marinated in a mixture of spices and herbs. Another popular variety is beef souvlaki, which is marinated in red wine and rosemary.
In conclusion, souvlaki is a delicious and versatile dish that has a long and rich history in Greek cuisine. Whether you prefer chicken, beef, pork, or lamb, there is a souvlaki for everyone, and the different varieties allow for endless flavour possibilities. As a chef, I always look for ways to innovate and elevate classic dishes like souvlaki, and I encourage all food lovers to explore this delicious dish and discover the many flavours it has to offer.
What is Halloumi Cheese?
I have a great appreciation for unique and versatile ingredients, and halloumi cheese is one of my favourites. Originating from Cyprus, halloumi cheese has been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries and has gained popularity worldwide in recent years. Let me delve into the history, characteristics, and varieties of this beloved cheese.
Halloumi cheese is made from a combination of sheep's milk and goat's milk, and is known for its high melting point, making it perfect for grilling, frying, and roasting. This cheese is traditionally made in Cyprus, where the warm climate and traditional production methods have contributed to its unique flavour and texture.
Halloumi cheese has a long history that dates back to the ancient times of the Ottoman Empire, where it was served as a staple food for the military. The cheese was transported by merchants and traders along the Mediterranean, eventually reaching other countries and becoming a popular ingredient in their cuisine. Today, halloumi cheese is widely produced and consumed in Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East, and is enjoyed by many around the world.
There are many varieties of halloumi cheese available, each with its own unique flavour profile and production method. For example, traditional halloumi is made with only sheep's milk and is known for its firm texture and tangy flavour. On the other hand, mixed milk halloumi is made with a combination of sheep's and goat's milk, and has a milder, creamier flavour. There is also the "salty" halloumi, which is seasoned with salt and mint, and the "sweet" halloumi, which is made with sugar, cinnamon, and other spices.
This recipe makes: 4 portions
Ingredients for Halloumi Souvlaki
220g (7.7oz) of Halloumi cheese, diced
1/2 lemon juice
1 medium-size Aubergine, cut into four lengthways and sliced.
1tbsp of balsamic glaze (if not available dissolve 2tsp of brown sugar in 2tbsp of balsamic vinegar)
1tbsp olive oil
1/4tsp of salt
1/4tsp of black pepper
1tsp of dried oregano
120g (4.2oz) of sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil
2tsp of baby capers (they are less salty than the bigger capers)
half a red onion sliced into rings
Ingredients for Tzatziki
400g of cucumber (1 medium-sized)
6tbsp of Greek yoghurt
10g of fresh dill, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced (you can also use 1tsp of dried garlic powder instead)
drizzle of lemon juice
1/2tsp of black pepper
1/2tsp of salt
1/4tsp of sugar
How to prepare Halloumi Souvlaki
1. To start, soak the diced Halloumi cheese in a mixture of water and 1/2 lemon juice for 30-60 minutes. This helps to reduce the saltiness of the Halloumi and can alter its texture, so feel free to experiment with longer soak times to achieve your desired taste.
2. Prepare the Tzatziki next. Start by grating the cucumber into a bowl. Then, remove the excess juice using a cloth or sieve. You have the option of keeping the skin on for added fibre and texture, or removing it for a smoother consistency.
3. In a separate bowl, combine grated cucumber, 6tbsp of Greek yogurt, 10g of finely chopped dill, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Add a drizzle of lemon juice, and season with 1/2tsp of black pepper, 1/2tsp of salt, and 1/4tsp of sugar. Stir until well combined and refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F). In a separate bowl, combine sliced Aubergine, 1 tbsp of balsamic glaze, 1tbsp of olive oil, 1/4tsp of salt, 1/4tsp of black pepper, and 1tsp of dried oregano. Mix until the Aubergine is evenly coated. Place the mixture on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
5. Remove the Halloumi cheese from the soaking liquid and transfer to a separate baking tray. Lightly drizzle the cheese with olive oil and place the tray in the oven, alongside the Aubergine, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
6. While the Halloumi and Aubergine are baking, prepare the sun-dried tomato tapenade. Blend 120g of sun-dried tomatoes with 2 teaspoons of baby capers and place in a small dish, set aside.
7. Heat both sides of the flatbread in a frying pan. Spread one side with the blended sun-dried tomato mixture. Then, add a few pieces of roasted Halloumi cheese and aubergine. Finally, add a couple of tablespoons of the prepared Tzatziki and garnish with thin slices of red onion. Enjoy your delicious meal!
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Tips for preparing Halloumi Souvlaki
Soaking Halloumi cheese in water before using it in the dish can help to reduce its salt content and change its texture. This is an easy step that can greatly enhance the flavour of your Halloumi Souvlaki.
Aubergine is a great ingredient to include in your Halloumi Souvlaki due to its spongy texture. This texture allows it to absorb liquids and seasonings, making it a delicious and flavourful addition to the dish.
FAQs and Variations for the recipe:
How long should I soak the Halloumi cheese? Soak the Halloumi cheese in a mixture of water and 1/2 lemon juice for 30-60 minutes to reduce its saltiness and change its texture. You can experiment with longer soak times to achieve your desired taste.
Can I use a different type of cheese instead of Halloumi? While Halloumi cheese is the traditional choice for this recipe, you can certainly experiment with other cheeses. Feta cheese or paneer can make a good substitute.
Can I make the Tzatziki ahead of time? Yes, you can make the Tzatziki ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to serve. This can help to save time when preparing the Halloumi Souvlaki.
Can I make the balsamic glaze at home? Yes, you can make the balsamic glaze at home by reducing balsamic vinegar and sugar. Simply combine equal parts balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. You can also purchase it here.
Chicken Souvlaki - Substitute the diced Halloumi cheese with bite-sized pieces of chicken breast, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Grill the chicken on skewers and serve with the same toppings as the original recipe.
Veggie Souvlaki - Replace the Halloumi cheese with tofu or tempeh, and skip the soaking step. Add more vegetables to the mix, such as bell peppers, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes. Grill the vegetables on skewers and serve with the same toppings as the original recipe.
Spicy Souvlaki - Add some heat to the dish by mixing some harissa paste with the olive oil and balsamic glaze used to coat the aubergine. You can also sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top of the roasted Halloumi cheese. Serve with the same toppings as the original recipe.
Pita pockets instead of flatbread - Use whole-wheat pita pockets instead of Greek flatbreads for a healthier twist. Stuff the pockets with the roasted aubergine, Halloumi cheese, and sun-dried tomato tapenade, and serve with the Tzatziki sauce on the side.
Check out my other recipes:
Chickpea Madras Curry - I highly recommend trying my recipe for a mouth-watering Vegetarian Curry, featuring roasted sweet potatoes and creamy coconut milk. This hearty dish is the perfect comfort food to warm you up on a cold winter evening.
Fried Rice with Smoked Tofu - Get ready to indulge in a delicious and healthy meal with loads of flavours and textures!
Chilli Non-Carne - As a passionate chef who absolutely loves Mexican cuisine, I can't recommend this dish enough!
Super Gooey Chocolate Brownie - Who doesn't love chocolate? It's a guaranteed mood-lifter, bringing joy and warmth to our homes. But as with any good thing, moderation is key.
If you enjoyed this vegetarian Souvlaki recipe, check out my other delicious vegetarian recipes!