Who said that healthy food can’t be delicious? These halloumi wraps are literally an all-around powerhouse of nutritious things and they taste so good you will be hooked immediately. Halloumi, quinoa, spinach, avocado, bell pepper, and a secret ingredient – fig mustard!
Who has been trying to eat healthier since the start of the new year?
I don’t start the year with any particular resolutions, but it’s always nice to begin the new year with some light, fresh meals, even if you also cheat with some rich comfort foods. Especially those involving cheese. Fortunately, you can have your cheese and your healthy fresh foods at the same time in this wrap. It’s the best of both worlds!
You might have figured out I love cheese. Especially soft cheeses. You can certainly see this from the recipes in the archives. Cottage cheese waffles and pancakes, ricotta cheesecakes, and a goat cheese tart are just the start of my cheese recipes. And that doesn’t even mention the more than ten recipes with cream cheese. But this recipe is a foray into a new cheese for me – halloumi!
What is Halloumi?
I only discovered halloumi recently and I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with it. Most of the time halloumi’s origin is attributed to Cyprus, but it is also popular throughout the Levant – which is to say, most of the eastern Mediterranean.
Traditionally it is made from sheep and goat milk, but modern varieties can also be made with cow milk. It has a very mild, slightly salty flavor from the brine it is formed in. It is often eaten warm, like in this wrap.
Halloumi is a unique semi-hard cheese because it has a really high melting point. Because of this, it can be fried or grilled in a way that most other cheeses cannot. And it will pick up extra flavors from cooking; smoke on the grill or a caramelized flavor when fried.
Most people add it grilled to salads or fried as an appetizer with olive oil or a dipping sauce. In Cyprus, it’s often eaten with watermelon and mint. I fully intend to try a grilled halloumi and watermelon salad with finely chopped mint this summer.
Healthy Food is Tasty
Despite the cheese focus, I did want to keep these wraps healthy and nutritious like my Falafel Wraps. Adding quinoa was an easy way for me to increase the protein and dietary supplements like vitamin B. Plus this makes the wraps more filling since high protein diets are shown to keep you feeling full longer. And feeling full reduces snacking – a perfect start for your new year!
In fact, these halloumi wraps are an all-around powerhouse of nutritious things. Besides the protein and fiber from the quinoa, there’s lots of iron and minerals from the spinach, healthy vegetable fats from the avocado, and lots of vitamins A and C from the bell pepper. Even halloumi itself has plenty of protein.
Don’t worry though, it’s not all about the healthy vegetables – there’s a hidden bit of sweet too. I really enjoy the combination of sweet and savory in my food. The dressing for this wrap is the interesting combo of sweet fig jam and savory mustard. It’s surprising, but fruit goes really well with mustard. Particularly creamy Dijon mustard.
The fig’s sweetness cuts through the sharp, slightly spicy flavor of mustard and rounds out the wrap perfectly. Just the thing to get vegetables regularly requested in your house.
How to Make Halloumi Wraps
Cook your quinoa. Cooking times are going to vary depending on what variety you are using, which is why I advise following the package directions. I used white quinoa (occasionally referred to as golden) which has a very delicate flavor, but any variety works. Red would give you a nice vivid color combo in the wrap and a chewier texture.
Next, fry your halloumi. You want a dry (no oil or anything) non-stick pan to prevent the cheese from sticking as it cooks. A well-seasoned cast iron pan could also work, but adding oil to the cook surface will disrupt the nice browned crust that will form on the cheese and make it difficult to work with. Cook both sides of your halloumi slices to a crispy brown. Keep them covered and warm until you are ready to assemble your wraps.
Dice onion and pepper into approximately ½” pieces. Heat some oil over medium heat before adding your vegetables and thyme. Adding your vegetables to already heated oil (rather than heating them together) reduces the amount of oil your food absorbs. Cook the vegetables until soft then season with salt and ground pepper to your preferred taste.
Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with the fig jam and Dijon mustard until smooth.
In a large bowl, toss the sautéed vegetables with the quinoa and spinach. The spinach may wilt a little from the warm quinoa and pepper/onion mixture, but that’s ok. This recipe is at its best when everything is a little bit warm.
Drizzle with the dressing and toss again to thoroughly mix everything.
Next, mash up your avocado with the lemon (after you’ve scooped the avocado out of the peel obviously). A fork works just fine to mash a well-ripened avocado. Get it as smooth as you can so the tangy flavor of the lemon juice is distributed and you can spread an even layer.
And finally: Assemble your wraps!
Spread ¼ of the avocado mixture evenly in the center of each tortilla. Create an even layer of ¼ of the quinoa and vegetable mixture over the avocado. Place a couple slices of fried halloumi in the center of everything.
Fold one side of the tortilla over the halloumi then finish rolling to the other side.
These halloumi wraps are best eaten while everything is still warm, but I bet that they would be nice at a picnic too.
Healthy Halloumi Wraps
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa , rinsed well
- 7 oz. (200g) halloumi cheese , cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 bell pepper , chopped
- 1 onion , chopped
- 1/4 tsp dry thyme
- 2 oz. (60g) baby spinach
- black pepper , to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fig jam
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice , or more to taste
- salt , to taste
- 4 large tortillas
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook sliced halloumi in the dry pan for 2-3 minutes on each side until it turns golden-brown and slightly crispy on the outside. Remove from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Add the olive oil to the same pan, then cook the onion, bell pepper and thyme on medium heat for 4-5 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Mix the spinach, quinoa, and cooked veggies together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fig jam, and Dijon mustard. Pour over the salad mix and toss until well coated. Season with salt and black pepper, if needed.
- In a bowl, mash the avocados and lemon juice with a fork until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble: Place tortillas on a work surface and spread each with avocado mixture. Top with the quinoa salad and halloumi. Wrap and serve.