#NationalVegetarianWeek is highlighting how many vegetarian alternatives exist to traditional, non-veggie options. Social media has been busy with posts showing people how to substitute meat with lovely legumes, halloumi or tasty tofu to create healthy dishes.

Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a combination of milk from goats, sheep and sometimes cows. Already popular throughout the Levant region, demand in the UK surpassed every other country by 2013, except Cyprus where it originated in the Medieval Byzantine period (AD395-1191).

Nutritionally, this form of cheese is a source of protein and it has a texture similar to mozzarella with a salty flavour. It has a higher-than-normal melting point so it can be used in cooking and is excellent for frying, grilling or barbecuing. It’s great with watermelon for warmer weather, or with smoked pork or lamb for a more filling dish. In Israel, it’s sometimes served for breakfast or eaten with fish.

We’re looking at three versatile ways you can use halloumi to transform your regular dish into a vegetarian feast.

Instead of bread… grilled, this food makes an amazing alternative bruschetta base. Simply grill your halloumi first, then arrange the slices in a baking dish, and cover with your choice of topping. Try tomatoes with mint or basil for a fresh and tasty dish.

Instead of potato… crisp-fried halloumi fries are salty and tasty, perfect with a yogurt dip. Or try shallow-frying cubes of halloumi as an alternative to potato wedges.

Instead of meat… cube it like chicken for curry; slice it and swap it for steaks; grate it to replace mince. The texture is similar to meat, and it’s tasty enough that even committed carnivores will enjoy it.

What’s your Halloumi flavour?

Traditionally it’s served with mint – in fact, most packages will feature mint somewhere, and it is a perfect foil for halloumi’s innate saltiness. But halloumi works equally well with plenty of other flavours too, including garlic, chilli and lemon. Combine your flavours with olive oil and leave to marinade for a few hours to achieve optimum taste impact.

For more fries options have a read of: pimp my fries.

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