Tasty breaded halloumi stands in for meatballs in this fun vegetarian dinner! This is the perfect way to add something new and interesting to pasta night.
These are clearly not meatballs in any sense, but I thought it was a fun take on a vegetarian spaghetti and meatball concept, and a pretty easy one too! Chunks of halloumi (they aren’t even balls – we are really stretching here, I know) are breaded with Italian seasonings, fried, and put on top of spaghetti.
We’ve gone down the route of halloumi pasta before in my Halloumi Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes & Mint recipe, but while that was delicate and fresh and lovely in a different way, this is more of a pure comfort food situation.
While I know that it’s really nothing like actual meatballs, I do think it might hit the spot when you’re craving a super filling bowl of spaghetti with that extra bit of fatty protein on top.
There’s not a lot of ingredients required if you go down the route of using a pre-made sauce (for me, homemade sauce AND breading things = too much for most nights, though I have some homemade sauce recipes that I will be suggesting a little further down).
What is crucial in this recipe is the spices and seasonings which transform the halloumi into something extra flavorful. Italian seasoning mix + smoked paprika + fennel seeds bring a nod to the smoky umami flavor you might be missing from meaty pasta dishes. This pops really nicely against a creamy tomato sauce.
Is pretty easy, actually, because halloumi doesn’t melt. So it’s not like trying to fry a melting cheese which is tricky, where you need to make sure to get the cheese really well sealed in.
With this, you simply dip the halloumi pieces in egg and dredge in the breadcrumb mixture as best you can, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
Pairing these Halloumi Balls with Spaghetti Sauce
I am not including a recipe for the sauce, instead you can source your own sauce of choice. If it’s a busy weeknight and there is a jarred sauce you like, just use that. For the recipe batch photographed, I used a supermarket tomato and mascarpone sauce which was quite nice. As I said before, the spices of the breading contrast nicely with that creamy finish though it’s certainly not important to use a creamy sauce and a more strong tomato flavor will also work nicely.
If you wish to make a homemade sauce, I have a few options that this would work nicely with:
- The Best Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce
- Creamy Tomato Pasta Sauce with Capers
- Butter Heirloom Tomato Sauce
You also need to know about…
Finding unexpected uses for halloumi is pretty much my life’s work at this point. Halloumi noobs, you should check out my big guide on how to buy, cook and eat halloumi. It’s everything you need to know. And here are a few other popular recipes which use this insanely delicious cheese in unexpected ways:
Spaghetti with Halloumi Balls
- 200 g (7 oz) halloumi, chopped into squares, see notes
- 1 large egg
- 400 g (14 oz) spaghetti
- 1 jar tomato based pasta sauce
- 4 Tbsp breadcrumbs
- 4 Tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan style cheese
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning / Italian mixed herbs
- 1.5 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Boil your pasta according to package instructions. Let your sauce simmer at the same time in a separate pan. While the pasta and sauce cook, you can prepare your halloumi balls.400 g spaghetti, 1 jar tomato based pasta sauce
- Prepare the breading mix. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix until well combined.4 Tbsp breadcrumbs, 2 tsp Italian seasoning / Italian mixed herbs, 1.5 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 4 Tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan style cheese
- Whisk the egg in another bowl.1 large egg
- Now it's time to start breading! Line up all of your halloumi squares on a chopping board or a layer of parchment paper. First, dip the halloumi in the egg and then the breadcrumbs, moving the halloumi through the crumbs to make sure that it's completely covered. Set back on the chopping board or parchment paper and repeat until they're all coated.200 g halloumi
- Once the spaghetti is boiled, drain and add back into the pan. Add the sauce. Toss to mix, and then set aside to keep warm while you cook the halloumi.
- Heat a layer of olive oil in a frying pan. You want to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on a medium heat. It's ready when a breadcrumb sizzles upon contact, so try tossing a crumb if you're not sure.
- Add the halloumi to the pan one by one. You will need to cook them in batches, making sure not to put too many in the pan at once. As you add more, you want to make sure they all sizzle on contact. If they stop sizzling, then the oil is cooling down and you want to stop adding any more until it heats up again.
- Let them cook on each side until brown, working quickly to flip them around as they cook to get them as evenly cooked on each side as possible. It won't be perfect and that is OK.
- Serve! Add spaghetti to a bowl and top with 4-6 halloumi pieces per dish.