Get your skillet tonight and pan-sear slabs of firm cheese

The recipe for Pan-Fried Halloumi appears in “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook.”

AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN

Named for the small frying pan traditionally used to prepare this dish, Greek saganaki is an appetizer made by pan-searing slabs of firm cheese. We chose to create a version using halloumi.

To achieve the classic crisp, browned exterior that would offer a satisfying contrast to the chewy interior, we tried pan frying the halloumi plain and dusted with flour, bread crumbs and cornmeal.

A combination of stone-ground cornmeal and a little all-purpose flour provided just the right golden-brown, textured crust. A squeeze of bright lemon juice offered welcome tang.

To make a slightly more dressed-up version, we made a quick sauce with thinly sliced garlic, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes to drizzle over the top. The pan-fried halloumi also tastes great with a drizzle of honey.

Pan-fried halloumi

Servings: 6-8

Start to finish: 20 minutes

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 (8 ounce) block halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick slabs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Lemon wedges

Combine cornmeal and flour in shallow dish. Working with 1 piece of cheese at a time, coat both wide sides with cornmeal mixture, pressing to help coating adhere; transfer to plate.

Heat oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Arrange halloumi in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Variation

Pan-Fried Halloumi with Garlic-Parsley Sauce

After frying halloumi, discard oil left in skillet and wipe out skillet with paper towels. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to now-empty skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add 1 thinly sliced garlic clove, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is golden brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Drizzle oil mixture over pan-fried halloumi and serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition information per serving: 135 calories; 100 calories from fat; 11 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 21 mg cholesterol; 301 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 6 g protein.