Middle Eastern cuisine is trending, and this stir-fry puts to use some of its greatest imports. Labneh, an ultra-thick strained yogurt, serves as a creamy base for smoky whole grain freekeh, tender chunks of halloumi (a semi-soft cheese that resists melting over high heat), silky eggplant, and crunchy-sweet pomegranate. It’s all the motivation you need to make a trip to your local Middle Eastern grocer.
Place eggplant in a colander placed in the sink or over a bowl, toss with 1 tsp (5 mL) salt, and set aside to drain for about 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant thoroughly and pat dry.
In medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) water and a couple pinches salt to a boil. Add freekeh, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and freekeh is tender, about 18 minutes. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
Heat wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) oil and swirl to coat pan. Add pine nuts to pan and heat, stirring constantly, until slightly browned, about 30 seconds. Remove nuts from pan and set aside. Raise heat to medium-high, add remaining 2 tsp (10 mL) oil to pan, and place halloumi in pan; heat 3 minutes, or until cheese is golden. Remove halloumi from pan and set aside. Place eggplant in pan and heat until softened, about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add red pepper and garlic to pan; heat 1 minute. Return halloumi to pan and stir in zau2019atar and balsamic vinegar.
Spread labneh over serving plates and sprinkle on sumac if using. Top with freekeh and halloumi mixture. Sprinkle on pine nuts, parsley, and pomegranate seeds.
This recipe is part of the Stir It Up collection.
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