Labneh is a delicious Middle Eastern cream cheese that is made from strained yogurt. If you can’t find it in your supermarket, Greek yogurt is a close (though not exact) alternative. You can also try making it at home by mixing 2 lbs (1 kg) of yogurt with 1 tsp of salt, and then placing it in a colander lined with a clean cotton cloth (or coffee filter) with a bowl underneath it and letting it strain in your refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The result is a rich, creamy and thick spreadable cheese with a hint of sourness (which I find addictive, and which is what you don’t get from using Greek yogurt).
Zaatar is a Middle Eastern dried spice blend made by combining sumac, toasted sesame seeds, thyme and oregano. In this traditional Middle Eastern recipe, it is sprinkled over labneh and extra virgin olive oil to make an addictively good dip for vegetables or bread.
LABNEH WITH ZAATAR
(Serves 4 as a dip)
Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)
1 cup / 250g / 6oz Labneh
1-2 tsp zaatar
Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle over the salad)
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated/finely chopped (optional)
- Place the labneh in a medium-sized bowl and whisk it with a fork so that it loosens up.
- Peel and grate/finely chop 1 garlic clove. [NOTE: I am a huge fan of garlic, but the garlic can be omitted from this recipe and it will still taste delicious.]
- Add the garlic (if using) to the whipped labneh and mix well.
- In a shallow bowl or plate, pile the labneh in the center and use the back of a spoon to spread it in a spiral from the center of the plate outwards. The spiral indentations left by the spoon allows the olive oil to pool in the labneh.
- Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of zaatar over the labneh.
- Serve immediately with cut vegetables or bread.