This vegetarian halloumi pasta is a 35-minute Mediterranean-inspired dish that is bursting with flavor from sweet roasted (or grilled) vegetables and the freshness of basil pesto.
Have you discovered halloumi yet? Lately I want to put it in everything. In honor of the Mediterranean Diet month - May - I really wanted to come up with a vegetarian recipe that hit ALL the right notes, and included this delightful cheese.
You will love the combination of rich salty halloumi, sweet roasted vegetables, hearty pasta, and fresh herby pesto.
This is easily my new favorite pasta dish and I love when I can pack so much flavor into a simple, comforting, healthy, and quick weeknight dish!
The Mediterranean Diet
If you like quick, easy, hearty, and healthy dishes - you are going to be a fan of the Mediterranean diet. Don't worry, we're not using the term "diet" in the restrictive sense here. Restriction is not my thing at all!
Instead, The Mediterranean diet is simple a way of eating based on the traditional eating habits and foods of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea - namely, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and many more.
If your mouth is watering thinking of food from those countries, the Mediterranean Diet is for you! Not only is it a delicious way to eat, but the health benefits are just too many to count. It has long been observed that people in these countries live longer, healthier lives, and now we know their diet has a lot to do with that!
The main components of the Mediterranean diet include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.
I used Fusilli pasta, but you can use any other short pasta like Rotini or Penne. I find the chunky vegetables in this dish work best with a short pasta.
Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese made from goat's milk, sheep's milk, or a mix of both. It is a white, layered cheese that is almost as hard as mozzarella but is much firmer and has a spongy texture.
Halloumi is great for cooking and grilling because it doesn't melt easily. The cheese will get soft and warm when it's heated, but it won't melt. When the cheese is grilled or pan-fried, the outside can get nice and crispy while the middle stays soft.
Halloumi is the hero of this pasta dish, so it can't be eliminated or substituted. It is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and pairs well with fruits and vegetables. It is wonderful in salads like this Grilled Halloumi and Strawberry Salad, with meats, in burgers, or in this halloumi pesto pasta.
I have used grape tomatoes in this recipe, but you can substitute these with cherry tomatoes or some chopped-up Roma tomatoes.
I used basil pesto in this recipe. You can either make your own or use store-bought, completely up to you!
- Take a small bowl and combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and oregano.
2. Take a large baking sheet and add the zucchini, bell peppers, and onion along with 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture.
3. Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.
4. Boil and cook the pasta in a large pot while the vegetables are roasting.
5. Add the grape tomatoes and halloumi cubes to the baking sheet along with the rest of the roasted vegetables. Toss it with the remaining oil mixture and roast it again till the cheese is lightly golden.
6. Add the roasted vegetables and cheese to the drained pasta and mix.
7. Add dollops of your favorite basil pesto on top of the pasta and serve. You can also mix the pesto in the pasta according to your preference.
How to Make Halloumi Pasta on the Grill
Instead of roasting the vegetables and cheese in the oven, you can also grill them for this Mediterranean pasta recipe.
- Add your chopped vegetables and Halloumi to a mixing bowl.
- Add two tablespoons of the oil mixture and toss to coat.
- Thread the vegetables and cheese onto skewers.
- Heat up a lightly oiled grill or grill pan and grill the skewers.
- Turn them occasionally and baste them with more oil mixture as they cook until tender.
- Remove the vegetables and cheese from the skewers and add them to your pasta.
Mediterranean pasta variations
You can add your choice of protein like some chopped cooked chicken breast if you are not looking for a vegetarian pasta.
You can also add some white beans which would go well with the Mediterranean theme of the dish.
You can add any vegetables of your liking to this pasta dish. It is pretty versatile and the halloumi would also go well with some mushrooms, spinach, artichoke hearts, and olives.
Storing Halloumi Pasta
Halloumi pasta can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days in a sealed container. You can eat the leftovers cold or heat them up for a few minutes in the microwave. You can also serve the pasta cold as a pasta salad as a side with some Mediterranean Buddha Bowls or some Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Couscous.
More Mediterranean Mains
If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, here are some other main dishes you might enjoy.
- 10 oz dried pasta shapes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 8 oz halloumi cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 small red onion sliced into ½ inch wedges
- 1 small zucchini halved lengthwise and cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- ½ cup prepared pesto store bought or homemade
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and oregano.
- Add the bell pepper, onion, and zucchini to a large baking sheet along with 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture, and toss to coat.
- Spread into a single layer and roast for 15 minutes.
- While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shapes according to the package instructions.
- Add the halloumi cubes and cherry tomatoes to the pan, along with the remaining oil mixture and toss to coat well. Spread into a single layer and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is lightly golden
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. At this point you can either stir the pesto into the pasta along with the roasted vegetables and halloumi, or add dollops to each serving.