Grilled cheese with fresh or cooked vegetables, over a casserole dish, or with some tropical fruit. Sounds tasty, right? It is! But do you know which are the best cheeses for grilling?
Do you know the cartoons “Heidi, Girl of the Alps”? Actually, it’s a Japanese anime series based on the Swiss novel “Heidi’s Years of Wandering and Learning”. I used to watch this cartoon when I was a child, and I really loved it! I still remember the smell that I felt seeing Heidi sleeping on a hay bed and the taste that I felt watching her eating a piece of fried cheese. Some people think that Heidi was a book about cheese.
Here is a scene from the novel: “The old man put a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork, and held it over the fire, turning it to and fro, till it was golden-brown on all sides. Heidi had watched him eagerly. Suddenly she ran to the cupboard. When her grandfather brought a pot and the toasted cheese to the table, he found it already nicely set with two plates and two knives and the bread in the middle”.
After this scene, I felt an immense urge to eat some fried cheese! And I tried it right away! It was winter. I remember that I ran to my grandparent's house, and I grabbed a thick slice of cheese from their fridge and I chopped a thick slice of it. I've put it on a tree branch and held it over the fire. What happened wasn’t exactly what I've imagined. Some milky liquid started to trickle from the cheese, and the branch started to burn. I still ate the whole cheese!
After many years I found out that not all cheeses are equal. Only some of them can be grilled to perfection.
3 of the best cheeses for grilling
Halloumi is a cheese that comes from Cyprus. Unlike my grandparent's cheese, this one can be heated to high temperatures without melting. That makes it perfect for frying and grilling. More precisely, you can say that halloumi is the queen of grilled cheeses.
Made with goat and sheep milk, halloumi has a flavor similar to many other fresh milk cheeses like mozzarella. Its texture is dense and hard. But grilled cheese becomes crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
Before grilling it, drain it well, pat it dry, and slice it into slabs. Brush each slice with olive oil, then grill it over medium-high heat until it turns golden-brown. You can eat it as is or add it to salads or sandwiches. You can enhance its flavor with fresh mint or basil. Halloumi is one of the best cheeses for grilling. Here's a salad recipe with halloumi.
Tofu is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curd into soft white blocks. It’s a type of cheese most suited for vegans. In stores, you can find soft, firm, or extra firm tofu. Firm tofu can be grilled because it won’t melt when cooked at high temperatures.
Be careful when you want to grill tofu because it tends to stick to the grill, so rub it with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray. You should use extra firm tofu. Before you put it on the grill, press it to squeeze the excess water. You can simply grill it, but we suggest you marinate it for at least 30 minutes before grilling. For the marinade, you can use some of these ingredients: olive oil, soy sauce, lime, lemon, garlic, ginger root, pepper, honey, or rice vinegar.
3. Queso panela
Queso panela is a Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk and it also is one of the best cheeses for grilling. It’s mild and crumbly, and it doesn't lose its shape when heated. That’s why it can be grilled over direct heat. Queso para freir or Queso blanco also hold their shapes when you put them on the grill.
When grilled, it won’t turn as brown as halloumi. Cook the cheese slices on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side. The cheese will soften but be careful, it might stick on the grill.
Queso panela can be served with tropical fruit, as a snack or appetizer. You can also eat this grilled cheese with casseroles or with salads.