If The Flavor Of Feta Overwhelms You, Halloumi Is The Perfect Alternative

Greek salad, spanakopita, and gyros galore — feta is a staple ingredient across Mediterranean dishes. With a salty, crumbly, and distinct flavor, feta has more than proven itself. However, those potent qualities can also be polarizing, amassing avid fans and staunch opposers alike. Yet even if you're not crazy about feta, you don't have to steer clear of cheese in your next Greek dish. Instead of the former, substitute halloumi: another Mediterranean cheese similar to the Greek classic, but with a more mild taste and firmer texture.

Halloumi works as a perfect feta substitute because it's more neutral in taste and smell than feta, but not different enough to fully change any given dish. Similarities surface in parallel origins, both geographically and milk-wise; feta is from Greece, whereas halloumi is from nearby Cyprus, and each cheese consists of sheep's milk. This milk lends moisture and creaminess, resulting in similar flavors ... albeit at different strengths. 

Likewise, feta and halloumi share both textural similarities and differences that allow for an easy mix-and-match. Both cheeses often come in a block, but while feta crumbles, halloumi tends to squeak. The latter cheese is also semi-hard and therefore firmer than feta. Despite these differences, however, both cheeses are great served raw but even better when grilled. Their similarly high melting points allow for a near-seamless substitution. 

Salty, squeaky, and versatile, halloumi takes many forms

Halloumi can blend into — or star in — all kinds of recipes, Mediterranean or not. This is partly because the cheese, like feta, has a high melting point that means it's perfect for grilling or frying. Once heated, halloumi transforms in texture. It develops a crispy, flavorful exterior, with a soft, squeaky inside.

It's this textural versatility that makes halloumi so similar to feta, which likewise tastes great grilled as a block. However, halloumi retains a milder taste than the former cheese, so it serves a more neutral function in recipes. For instance, you can try halloumi grilled alongside tomatoes on skewers, or taste it as the signature ingredient in vegetarian tacos. If you'd rather go into full-out mozzarella stick mode, halloumi is also delicious when fried. Of course, you can't go wrong with the salty cheese paired with something sweet. Hello, watermelon salad with halloumi ... just as you'd make watermelon salad with feta. Granted, one will have a more powerful flavor profile than the other, but both are guaranteed to be delicious.