Narjissiya With Asparagus, Halloumi and Sumac
Narjissiya refers to any of several dishes found in medieval Arab cookery books made with sunny-side-up eggs. The word itself means “like narcissus,” a name likely chosen for the dish’s vibrant white and yellow colors, just like the narcissus (daffodil) flower. The ancient variations and ingredients were endless, from meat and broad beans to chickpeas and yogurt, but the choice of ingredients here — and bright flavors — are inspired by spring, and asparagus, which grows wild in the fields of the Levant. The citrusy sumac and olive oil complement asparagus and eggs, but their flavors do stand out, so use the best you can find.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 75grams pita bread (about 1 medium pita), cut into bite-size pieces (or simply use a handful of pita chips)
- 1tablespoon good-quality sumac
- 2tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Scant 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- ¼teaspoon kosher salt
- 2teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5to 6 ounces halloumi, cut into bite-size cubes (about 1 cup) and dried well on paper towels
- 1(14-ounce) bunch asparagus (see Note), woody ends trimmed, chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 2 heaping cups)
- ½teaspoon kosher salt
- 1large or 2 small garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press or minced
Step 1Prepare the pita croutons: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the pita pieces on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until the squares are completely dry and crisp, and starting to darken in color, about 10 to 15 minutes. (This step can be done a couple of days in advance, and the bread stored in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Or you can do it while you prep the rest of the dish. Skip this step if using the pita chips.)
Step 2Meanwhile, prepare the sumac oil: Combine the sumac and olive oil in a small bowl and mix well.
Step 3Prepare the yogurt: Mix together the yogurt and salt with 1 to 2 tablespoons water, just enough to get a thick drizzling consistency. Set aside.
Step 4In a medium cast-iron (or non-stick) frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium. Add the halloumi pieces in a single layer. Do not move them around or flip them over until any released water evaporates and pieces start to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another minute until the other side is browned. Transfer to a small plate and set aside.
Step 5To the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium. Add the asparagus and salt and cook, tossing around, just until bright green and glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so, just until fragrant.
Step 6Crack the eggs over the asparagus. Return the halloumi cheese to the pan, dispersing it evenly over the whites and the asparagus, then cover the pan and cook until your desired level of doneness, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 7To serve, scatter the pita croutons over the dish, then drizzle with the yogurt and sumac oil.