When I started working in Dearborn I was given the chance to start checking out their food scene, which is amazing by the way. But I also started going to the Middle Eastern markets. I would buy different ingredients there and start experimenting with different Middle Eastern recipes. Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking is a really wonderful cookbook to use for ideas and recipes.
Two ingredients that I fell in love with are Labneh and Za'atar and luckily they pair wonderfully together. Labneh is a creamy, tangy Middle Eastern yogurt that is strained until it is extra thick. That creamy, thick-ness makes it spreadable and almost cheesy. So I use it as both a yogurt and as a cheese. Combine it with olive oil, herbs and spices like za'atar to serve with warm pita bread. Za'atar is a mixture of Middle Eastern spices that can be used for sprinkling on roasted veggies, dipping warm pita bread in, used in a dry rub for meats and most importantly, combined with labneh and olive oil for a dip!
roasted garlic labneh with herbs + pistachios
Yield: 2 ½ cups Prep Time: 10 minutes + 40 minutes for roasting garlic
16 oz. labneh*
1 head of roasted garlic
¼ cup olive oil + 1 Tbsp.
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. za’atar**
3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup pistachios, crushed
½ cup mixed olives, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Cut off the top end of your head of garlic, making sure to expose the tips of each clove. Lightly drizzle the top with olive oil. Wrap the entire head of garlic in tin foil.
Roast for 40-45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft to the touch.
Be careful when handling the garlic, it will be extremely hot! When it is done, open up the tin foil to let air in and let it cool until you are able to handle it.
Gently squeeze all of the garlic out of its skin and into a medium-sized bowl. Mash it all up.
Add the labneh, olive oil, salt, za’atar and 2 Tbsp. of each fresh herb to the bowl with the mashed, roasted garlic and mix it all up until it is combined well.
In a separate small bowl, combine the remaining 1 Tbsp. of each fresh herbs.
Add the crushed pistachios, mixed olives and about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.
Transfer the labneh mixture to a nicer serving bowl (if you want) and top with pistachio/olive/herb topping.
Sprinkle with flakey sea salt and enjoy!
*You can find this at any Middle Eastern market or I’ve recently found it at a few different Meijers. I tend to either get the Green Cedar brand or ARZ.
**Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that is SO delicious and flavorful – I like to use it in yogurts/labneh or sprinkle over-top pita bread.