Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Sesame halloumi parcels with sweet potato tahini mash and chopped herb salad - A Tuesday treat

Today I want to share with you one of my all time favourite recipes. This recipe is perfect in every way except in the time it takes to prepare, so if you decide you'd like to make it, ensure it's on a day when you have a little extra time. I have this time on Tuesdays because my mum comes and will entertain the boys for me, which enables me to give a little more concentration to a more fiddly recipe. This recipe is not difficult in the slightest, just a tiny bit faffy and fiddley. This mostly relates to the the assembling of the parcels, but is fine as long as you organise yourself. I am most definitely helped by my incredibly long worksurface!

Before I go on, you can find the recipe for Sesame Halloumi Parcels on the BBCGoodFood website, right here. I haven't included an ingredient list here as they are all listed on the recipe page, but I've included a photograph of the ingredients for each stage as a visual aid. Please also note that I'm only using one block of halloumi here, enough for six parcels, and I've used other amounts of ingredients according to how much I know my family will eat!

Now, I have an one big issue with this recipe, and that is the very poor way in which it is written. Each step contains about a dozen other steps relating to different aspects of the meal and however many times I make it, I always have to read through each step several times to work out which parts of it are actually relating to the part I am dealing with at that moment in time. So I have decided, cheeky as it may be, to give you an easier to follow version, taking into account things I have learned as I've made it.

So, before you do anything, prepare the sweet potatoes: Peel, chop and place in a saucepan filled with water on the hob so they are ready to turn on when you put the parcels in the oven (this will enable you to put the parcels straight into the oven once you've made them, rather than having to leave them out while you prepare the sweet potato, otherwise the parcels will be ready way before the potato).

Preheat the oven to fan 180C/Gas mark 6.

Now prepare the parcels; here are the ingredients you'll need...

In a bowl, mix the tahini, olive oil, parsley, chilli and lemon zest...

I would advise you taste this mixture before settling for it; I always add a lot more tahini than the recipe states (about three tablespoons) and chilli to suit my pallette. Squeezy chilli is an excellent option for this recipe.

You now need to divide the halloumi into 12 slices. Halloumi has a tendancy to break up, so I have a little tip here to hopefully enable you to eek out that many: chop the block in half first. This means you only need to make six slices from each side, which is far easier to determine visually than 12.

Once divided in half, slice each side into six.

However careful you are, your halloumi will break (horizontally across the centre) especially during the next step. Don't let this concern you; if all falls apart, the pieces are easy to match back up again. Add the halloumi to the bowl and carefully mix to coat as thoroughly as possible with the tahini sauce.

Make sure you have a baking tray prepared (one is plenty if you are only making six) and arm yourself with your filo pastry.

The sheets I use are quite large so I am able to split them in half. Depending on the size of your sheets, you may need to cut them to size and end up with a bit of waste from each sheet. Spread the sheets out along a worksurface, or, if you are lacking workspace, do two at a time and keep the pastry you're not dealing with under a damp tea towel.

Pour a little oil on each sheet and spread over with your fingertips.

Place two slices of halloumi on top of each other at the top of each piece of pastry...

Make sure you scrape out any excess from the bowl and divide among the parcels - this taste is precious!

Then sprinkle the halloumi with sesame seeds.

Now begin to fold the parcels, first folding the top edge over followed by folding the long edges inwards.

Sprinkle with more sesame seeds...

...then continue to fold the parcel down until you reach the end. Repeat for all parcels.

Place the parcels carefully on the baking tray, prepare a whisked egg and brush it over the surfaces of the parcels.

Finish with another sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Turn on your pan of sweet potatoes and put the parcels in the oven for 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are boiling, time them for around ten minutes, pricking them with a knife to check they are ready. Ideally they will be ready a little before the parcels so you have time to get them mashed.

Now you can prepare the salad. Collect all the ingredients together...

...prepare a large bowl, and start chopping! Chopping the tomatoes and olives in half is self explanatory, but I have a method for chopping cucumber into fairly uniform pieces which I'll share with you.

Cut a slice of cucumber a couple of inches long and place on one end on a chopping board.

Make three vertical cuts, one across the centre, the other two either side, evenly spread.

Turn around with your hand and make the same slices perpendicular to those you just made.

Split this little tower in half and lie one half down as pictured.

Cut this from side to side so you are left with little half-moons which will then separate into nice, miniature squares of cucumber.

I've got some more frozen fresh herbs in this dish. Look how nicely this dill has sliced...

The cut up salad ingredients in a large bowl

To make the dressing whisk the lemon juice, honey and olive oil in a small bowl, season, and add to the salad, tossing together to distribute.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

The sweet potato should be ready by now, so prepare a masher...


...and add the tahini, olive oil and seasoning. Again, taste here and add until you are happy.

 Mix together with a fork then either prepare a stick blender or transfer the mixture to a food processor, and blast!

The pureeing makes this sweet potato tahini blend super smooth and delicious.

The parcels should be ready now, so remove from the oven...

...and dish up!

I made six parcels; two each for husb and me, and one each for the boys.. This was a good amount of food for each of us.

This meal is just indescribably delicious. There are so many complementary flavours and textures milling around on the plate. A particular favourite of mine is the way the salad dressing seeps across into the pastry and sweet potato, bringing its fresh flavour along with it, yet complementing the tastes with which it collides. One feels nourished, refreshed and treated, all at once.

And the Tonjus enjoyed it tremendously. The parcel can be eaten from the hand, and I distributed the salad vegetables according to who likes what. The oldest doesn't like tomato, but they both adore olives, fantastically enough. I did whip up a pan of peas to mix in with their sweet potato however, just for extra green factor.

So there you have my step by step guide to making this delicious dish. I hope I haven't made it even more complicated by throwing in so many tips and insights. I'd love to know if you've found it helpful. Just leave a comment here on the blog or on the facebook page.

Thanks so much for reading, and happy cooking!

xxx Sam 


  1. You are the real MVP! I'm making this tonight for my fiancé and I and the goodfood recipe is so wordy it's making me crosseyed. Your pictures of wrapping the halloumi are a lifesaver, thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Sarah C, you've made my day :-) I'm so glad my photos have helped you. I find that often with GF recipes; they have about a million steps in every step. I'd love to know how yours turned out. I've made this meal quite a few times and I always love it :-)
      xxx Sam


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