Forget about those veggie burger patties! Next time you're thinking about making the most amazing veggie burger just grill some real vegetables and make some eggplant and halloumi burgers! Grilled eggplant and onions with fried halloumi topped with a spicy harissa labneh make such an amazing veggie burger, you won't even believe that it was so easy to make!
Grilled Eggplant and Onions
The flavor of grilled veggies is something else! I mean, grilling brings out a sweetness and adds a smokiness that is just amazing.
I like to season veggies super simply when grilling. For the onions that means no seasoning! Yup just let that sweetness stand on its own. And make sure you keep a light, tender crunch of the onions.
As for the eggplant, I season it simple with salt, pepper, cumin, coriander and lemon zest. It's the perfect combination of mild seasoning thats earthy and zesty to compliment the eggplant.
The main thing to watch out for with grilling eggplant is to cook them until they are soft and mushy inside. I found the best way is to grill them until they are softened or about 6-8 minutes per side. Then remove from heat, place on a baking sheet and cover the baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil. This will actually help to steam the eggplant and finish off cooking. Plus, having them on a baking sheet means you can cook the eggplant (annd all the other veggies) ahead of time, then just pop the baking sheet back on the grill or even in the oven for a quick warm up right before serving! This really makes dinner time so much easier!!
So this harissa labneh is just that a mixture of harissa and labneh. Mix both the ingredients together to your desired liking and enjoy! (Its a great dip for the grilled veggies and halloumi even by itself!)
But what's harissa?
Harissa is a spicy chile paste used widely in Middle Eastern and Northern African cuisines. It is usually made with hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices, like cumin and coriander.
Another great Harissa recipe: Honey Harissa Chicken and Chickpea Flatbread
And what's labneh?
Labneh is like Greek yogurt times 10 (in a good way!) Its super tangy and delicious just like Greek yogurt. But its actually much thicker because the water content is strained out even more. You can spread it almost like a cream cheese. It's actually sometimes called labneh cheese!
I mean is there anything that really needs to be said about halloumi!
What is halloumi?
Halloumi is a semi hard, brined cheese that is kinda soft and spongey. It grills up really well (although its hard cheese, it will grill quickly!).
The only other thing to note about halloumi is that it is pretty salty! I prefer to take it easy on the salt for other ingredients when halloumi is involved. The great thing about halloumi is that once its fried (in a touch of oil to prevent the cheese from sticking) its pretty much good to go. I think it pairs really well with the harissa paste but even better with the harissa labneh, so creamy, so spicy and cheesy!
Now just put all of the above together in lightly toasted burger buns (or on a bed of salad greens) and its just amazing!!
Eggplant & Halloumi Burgers with Harissa Labneh
- 1 eggplant sliced
- 1 onion sliced into rounds
- 2 tablespoons Harissa paste
- ½ cup Labneh
- 8 oz Halloumi cheese thinly sliced
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- olive oil
- burger buns
- salad greens
- In a small bowl, combine harissa paste and labneh. Mix together to combine.
- Taste for salt, pepper and lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.
Eggplant and Halloumi Burgers
- In a grill pan, heated to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of cooking oil. Once the oil has heated up, add the onion slices to the pan. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, flip and let cook another 2 minutes on the other sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Sprinkle the eggplant slices with cumin, coriander, salt & pepper on both sides. In the same grill pan, heat to medium high heat, add another drizzle of oil and add the eggplant slices to the pan. (You may have to do this in multiple rounds). Cook eggplant until it softens and kind of shrivels, this may take 6-10 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the eggplant slices. Remove from pan, sprinkle with lemon zest and set aside.
- Add another drizzle of oil to the grill pan and add the halloumi slices to the pan. The cheese will fry up really quickly, it will only take 30 seconds to a minute per side. Try to get some browning on the outside so you get a little crust. Remove from heat and set aside to assemble the burgers.
- Build your burgers with the harissa labneh, grilled onions, grilled seasoned eggplant and fried halloumi and salad greens.