Grilled east mediterranean cheese on a pita bread topped with tomatoes and capers

Makes 4 servings

Inspired by the classical cheese saganaki from Greece, this recipe features grilled haloumi cheese. For the traditional saganaki, which literally translates into “little skillet,” the cheese is commonly sautéed or pan seared. Haloumi cheese, a firm, relatively salty cheese originally from Cyprus, is popular in many Middle Eastern cuisines. One of its unique features is that it can be grilled or cooked without melting. If needed, Mexican panela cheese or Greek kefalotyri cheese can be substituted.


  • 1 lb 8 oz haloumi, kefalotyri, or panela cheese
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 tomatoes (about 8 oz), peeled, cut into small dice
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Pita bread, for serving


  1. Cut the cheese into wedges about 3-inches long and 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Season the cheese with salt and pepper, toss in about half of the olive oil, and cook on a very hot grill until slightly charred on both sides, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Arrange on a plate.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, sweat the capers and tomatoes in the remaining olive oil until the tomato begins to get pulpy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add brandy and lemon juice and cook until the moisture is evaporated. Add the chopped parsley and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the tomato mix over the grilled cheese and serve immediately with pita bread.


  1. What is non alcoholic substitute for the brandy?


      Hi there! Something simple like orange juice would work great, as would cider vinegar or even plain apple juice. It’s not a significant contributor of flavor, mostly just a teeny bit of sweetness and acid, so it’s an easy omission.

  2. Thanks!

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