Kitchn Love Letters

The Overlooked $6 Trader Joe’s Grocery I’ll Be Grilling All Summer Long

published Jun 10, 2023
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Trader Joe's exterior and sign. Trader Joe's is an American privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, CA.
Credit: Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

In the summertime, I often get a bit too excited by all the things I want to do, see, and eat. All the bodies of water I can swim in and hot dogs I can consume? It boggles the mind. So at the first inklings of warm weather and long days, I pick some ultra-attainable goals: to always kind of be in my bathing suit, and for most of my meals to be of the grilled variety.

And while Trader Joe’s does require one to be fully clothed to shop, it’s worth putting on a cover-up to grab my favorite summer grilling staple: Atalanta halloumi cheese. If you’re new to halloumi cheese, strap yourself in because your whole world is about to kindly be rocked. With a flavor reminiscent of salty-briny feta cheese and the texture and creaminess of both mozzarella and paneer cheeses, halloumi is a grillable cheese that’s going to be stealing some grill space from your kebabs and ribs this season. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

What’s So Great About Trader Joe’s Atalanta Halloumi?

Click your tongs — it’s halloumi-grilling season. Yes, this cheese is grillable, and no, not that kind of grilled cheese. Cheese math is often pretty simple (heat + cheese = melty goodness), but that’s not the case with halloumi, a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese whose curds are heated to high temperatures that causes this cheese to get crispy rather than oozy, and yes, a bit squeaky (like another favorite TJ’s cheese, Pizza Bread Cheese). 

A few minutes of grill time (or skillet time) on each side is all it takes to achieve a crispy, caramelized crust on your halloumi. The result? Crispy, smoky, minty (from its light brine), and, yes, squeaky slices that are just begging to be set on an herby-briny Greek salad.

Best of all, this halloumi has an extra-generous fridge shelf-life, too, meaning that even though the halloumi-buying window is short (usually just until Labor Day), the halloumi-enjoying window is long at Trader Joe’s. When I was a TJ’s employee and used to order cheese for my store, I was well-known for stockpiling boxes of halloumi for months to keep the summertime vibes into fall — especially because my area’s grocery stores are often slim on halloumi options. If you stockpile enough bricks for a halloumi fortress, I won’t judge you. 

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

What’s the Best Way to Serve Trader Joe’s Atalanta Halloumi Cheese?

Outside of paying myself a “cheese tax” (as in, I get to eat the first slice for my grilling efforts), there are more than a few ways to serve halloumi. If you like a salad with a ton of texture and intrigue, you’re going to want to get yourself well-acquainted with Yossy Arefi’s kale & Brussels sprouts salad with pear & halloumi recipe. The saltiness of the halloumi plays off the sweet pears so well, with a lemony dressing that’s now become my standard house vinaigrette. 

More in the mood for something a bit more low-lift? Look no further than my new favorite alternative to a Caprese salad by arranging sliced watermelon for topping with grilled halloumi and a drizzle of this basil-mint oil as a dressing. Halloumi is also very cozy when skewered with thick slices of red onion, cherry tomatoes, and summer squash, so do yourself a huge favor and reserve some grilling real estate for this special summertime cheese. 

Find it in stores: Atalanta Halloumi Cheese, $5.99 for 8.8 ounces at Trader Joe’s

What TJ’s summer staples are you stocking up on this year? Tell us in the comments.