This lemony labneh and garlic scape dip is a wonderfully simple appetizer for warm weather fêtes. Creamy labneh, blended with sautéed garlic scapes, fresh mint leaves, and lemon zest, makes for a vibrant, crowd-pleasing dip.
Late last fall, I planted garlic in my raised beds. In spring, once all the snow melted and the earth had thawed, green stalks shot up and we had green garlic. Now, those tiny shoots are waist high with long pale green blossoms swirling out from their centers.
These garlic blossoms, better known as garlic scapes, are my favorite of the spring alliums. Ramps get all the attention, because they’re first and also elusive. But if ramps are rare and hard to get, I prize garlic scapes for their ease. The thin, snaking scapes are imbued with a mellow garlic flavor with just a hint of grassiness. Like all great spring vegetables, they just taste green. The whole scape can be chopped up, sautéed, and folded in with a grain and some cheese. Or, because they’re both garlicky and herbaceous, they can be pulsed raw with nuts or seeds for a simple pesto.
Here, the garlic scapes lend their gentle punch to a delicious labneh dip. Pulsed with fresh mint, lemon zest, a bit of olive oil, sunflower seeds, and labneh, this dip is simple to make and delightful to eat. Lively garlic scapes, mellowed by a brief sauté, are front and center on the palate, while mint and lemon make for a lovely, bright finish that keeps you coming back for more.
I tried this dip with both sautéed and raw garlic scapes. The cooked version was much more subtle and crowd pleasing. However, if you’re an ardent garlic scape fan like I am, you may want to go with the raw version – it’s very garlic-forward with lots of garlic-driven heat. To do this, simply add the raw scapes and olive oil directly to the food processor.
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
- 4 garlic scapes
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 cup labneh
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 ground white pepper
The night before, soak sunflower seeds in cold water. The next day, use a fine mesh strainer to rinse under cold water and set aside to drain.
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic scapes and sauté 2 minutes – just until scapes are fragrant, but still a vibrant shade of green.
Use a silicone spatula to scrape sautéed scapes and all of the olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Add sunflower seeds, labneh, mint, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add sea salt to taste. Scrape dip into a small container and chill until ready to serve.
To serve, top dip with a drizzle of olive and a few mint leaves. Serve with a selection of vegetables and crackers.