Grilled Halloumi bagels with pesto and tomatoes

Is there a specific food that you eat on new year’s eve? or in the first few days of the year?
What does the colour white mean to you?
Two seemingly unrelated questions or are they?

In the Levant and many parts of the Arab world, people like to welcome the new year with white food. The tradition is rooted in the belief that white is associated with prosperity, abundance, and good fortune.

These white foods include things like muhalabieh ( orange blossom and mastic scented milk pudding), Rice pudding, cheese (do remember that the cheese popular in the levant is mostly white like Nabulsi cheese and halloumi) , cooked yogurt, mansaf and labneh just to name a few.

I personally find the tradition endearing, what better way to welcome a new year with all its possibilities than with optimism?

Since I shared two sweet recipes in a row, I think it’s time to take a walk on the savoury side . These bagels happen to be a family favorite. We first tried them in a little cafe that overlooked the bay in the UAE . We have been making them at home ever since. I fondly remember that place because its staff were super friendly and it was the kids’ go-to after a long walk along the bay or after a hectic week of exams.
What sets these bagels apart is the Grilling of the Halloumi. It changes the texture and adds a bit of smokiness to it which pairs perfectly with the freshness of the lettuce and the peppery nutty tones of the pesto. Tomatoes are there for a pop of colour and juicy goodness.

If you would like to switch things up, replace the pesto with olive tapenade and try to add sprouts for an extra dose of nutrients. I have been experimenting with different kinds of sprouts lately and so far sunflower sprouts and mustard sprouts are my favorites.

So do tell me, dear readers, what does white mean to you?

The white light streams down to be broken up by those human prisms into all the colours.

Charles R. Brown

Grilled Halloumi bagels

Halloumi cheese cut into 1 cm thick slices
1-2 tablespoons pesto
2 slices of tomato
Lettuce leaves
Sprouts (optional)

To grill the halloumi, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
Add the halloumi slices and grill for 3-5 minutes till they are golden brown on the bottom.
Flip the halloumi and grill the other size.
Cut your bagel in half and toast it lightly if you prefer an added crunch.
Spread the pesto on the cut side
Place the lettuce followed by the Halloumi then the tomatoes and sprouts