Herbed labneh dip with fresh basil, parsley, and mint plus sliced summer vegetable is a 5-minute dinner option for busy – or really hot – summer evenings.
Peak summer has arrived. I’m swimming in tomatoes and cucumbers, and the novelty of finding ways to eat them all has yet to wear off. It’s the time of year when some of the best meals are as simple as good bread, sliced vegetables, and cheese or a dip to bring it all together.
After a few nights of tomato and mozzarella sandwiches, we switched things up with this simple herbed labneh dip topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, and lots of olive oil. The labneh dip is made with the herbs that are most abundant right now: basil, parsley, and mint, and comes together in about 5 minutes. As always, there’s room for lots of variation and the combination of various herbs and crudités are enough to keep this simple dinner in rotation well into the fall season.
Labneh, lebneh, or strained yogurt, is a common ingredient in the cuisines of the West Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean. More like a thin cheese – think ricotta or a creamy chevre – labneh is thicker than Greek yogurt and has a nice creamy finish. If you have the time and inclination, you can make your own labneh at home by spooning Greek yogurt into a layered cheesecloth, adding the right amount of salt, tying it closed, and suspending it over a bowl in the fridge overnight. You can also find pre-made labneh in Middle Eastern grocery stores and specialty or health food grocers. However you get there, make sure your labneh is full fat, since that’s what carries all the flavor.
Finding Good Olive Oil
You may also notice this recipe calls for a generous amount of olive oil. It rounds out the flavor and lends the dish richness and depth, so don’t skimp. It’s called a labneh dip, but in some ways, the labneh is just a great way to carry to flavor of good olive oil.
Olive oil prices have skyrocketed lately, and my old go-to California Olive Ranch has just gotten too expensive for me. These days, I buy Seka Hills olive oil. I buy as much as I can with each purchase – I usually get two or three gallons at a time and look for sales. But even with hefty shipping costs, it comes out to about $18 for 750 ml, which is comparable to pre-inflation prices for a good bottle of olive oil. CostCo’s organic Italian olive oil is my back up and that’s great too.
Pulling It All Together
After you’ve made the dip and added the herbs, you can use sliced, salted cherry tomatoes and cucumbers as both toppings and things to dip. I also like to serve the dip with toasted sourdough that’s drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. (My friend Charles tweeted about seasoning your bread once, and I’ve never looked back!)
The dip with keep well for a day or two in the fridge. While the flavor will hold, fresh herbs like basil and mint can blacken, so it’s best made and eaten within the first day, though a few hours in the fridge encourages the flavors to meld.
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- Zest of 1 lemon plus 2 tablespoons juice
- 1 1/2 cups labneh
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 - 2 tablespoons more for drizzling
- 1/2 cup minced mixture of basil, parsley, and mint
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper
- 1 cup cucumbers cut into half moons
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- Toasts drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, for serving
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the garlic, zest and juice, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Let the garlic marinate while you prep the vegetables and toasts.
Just before serving, stir the labneh, olive oil, and most of the herbs into the garlic mixture. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon into a shallow bowl and swirl. Top with half the tomatoes and cucumbers, the remaining herbs, and a drizzle more olive oil. Add a pinch each of sea salt and pepper. Arrange the remaining vegetables and the toasts on the side, and serve.