After trying tahini last week, I decided I’ll do a little miniseries on different dips and spreads. (This obviously would not be the case if I didn’t like the tahini, but since it was successful, I had the courage to move forward with more dips).
So this week I gave labneh a try. It’s basically a thicker, spreadable yogurt that’s had the liquid strained out of it, and it’s common in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
If I’m being honest, I had the tub of labneh in my fridge for more than a week before forcing myself to try it. I like yogurt, but usually with other flavors and toppings mixed in. I was nervous about having such a yogurt-forward dip. That’s a lotta tang.
But late last week, I put my big-girl pants on and made myself a za’atar labneh dip for toast and sumo oranges. Let’s unpack all that.
You may remember that I bought a za’atar blend around St. Patrick’s Day for a non-traditional Irish soda bread. As much as I enjoyed that bread, I couldn’t really discern a distinct za’atar flavor from it. So adding it straight on top of my labneh felt like an easy way to actually taste the spice.
Also, in the past, I’ve mentioned how my go-to grocery store is fairly basic in terms of the products it carries—there’s nothing too exotic. But recently, they renovated their produce section and now have all kinds of new fruits and vegetables for me to play with! So when I saw sumo citrus oranges on display, I decided to put one in my cart.
With my labneh getting old in the fridge, I had acquired everything I’d need for a simple lunch spread.
OK let’s start with the sumo citrus to get that out of the way. It is the e.x.a.c.t. same thing as your garden variety orange. It just has a bumpier peel and funkier shape. The internet claims that it’s sweeter than a navel or mandarin orange. Sure. Maybe. But it’s pretty much just an orange. It tasted good but was certainly not anything revolutionary.
Next, the za’atar. Since this blend is heavy on the thyme, it tasted like Thanksgiving and potatoes to me. It was good, but I’d like to make my own za’atar blend eventually to really get the most flavor out of it. All in all, though, I’d definitely use this on potatoes, chicken, and other dips again.
And now for the labneh. Because I pretty much exclusively eat the same Greek yogurt brand for midweek lunches, I forgot how rich and creamy full-fat yogurt could be. My first scoop of this dip was luscious and took me by surprise.
It was less tangy than Greek yogurt, which made this spread all the more palatable to me. And the za’atar on top brought a welcome savory note to what could easily veer sweet with different mix-ins.
Dipping my fancy orange wedges into it created a well-balanced bite of rich, acidic, savory, and bright flavors. For the sake of comparison throughout this “spreads” miniseries, I also dipped my same cardboard Ezekiel bread from tahini week into this dip. And it was equally delicious! Buttery, flavorful, and a great midday snack.
I wouldn’t mind trying another labneh spread with more Mediterranean flavors like olives and roasted red peppers. I bet adding this to a cheese board with some prosciutto (my beloved) and good bread would make for a delicious snack. Have you tried labneh? I have about a week to use up the rest of my tub, so give me all your yogurt spread reccs in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles!