Spiced Labneh

Bottom left, of course.

Labneh is basically thickened (strained), salted yoghurt. I have already waxed lyrical about it within the pages of Veggiestan, but here is yet another example of just how very versatile the stuff is.
You can use this as a meze dish/party dip, to go in sandwiches, as a filling for tarts/vol au vents (does anyone eat those any more?), on bruschettas or crostinis, in a savoury roulade, in jacket potatoes. Need any more convincing? Well, it’s so good I reckon you might just want to stand and eat it with a teaspoon straight from the fridge when no-one’s looking. Not that I do that or anything, no sirree…
You will need (to make a handy bowlful):

  • 250g labneh*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • 3 sticks of celery, ultra-finely chopped
  • celery salt to taste
  • 50g shelled walnuts, finely chopped + a few for garnish
  • 1 generous teaspoon za’atar**
  • 1/2 teaspoon golpar*** (ground Persian hogwort: yes, it’s optional)

Kind of intuitive this, no? Just beat all the ingredients together into a thick paste. Cover and chill. This should keep for up to a week, if you can leave it alone.

*If you can’t find any to buy, just strain regular yoghurt through a piece of muslin/old tea towel over the sink. Season lightly with salt and chill until needed. The yoghurt, that is, not you, although if you wish you may do the same.
**Arabic word for thyme, although in this context it means crushed thyme with sumac, sesame and salt.
***This is a ‘warm’ (garm) substance in terms of its effect on your constitution, and helps guard against the ‘cold’ (sard) of the yoghurt. It is readily available in Persian stores and silly yellow cornershops up and down the land(s).

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