I am honestly kind of embarrassed to admit how much of this very bowl of za'atar labneh my husband and I ate immediately after this photo was taken.
Like, ummmm, almost all of it.
"I’ve been eating za’atar and labneh my whole life but never thought to toast it with garlic. I sliced the garlic very thin instead of mincing and had the idea to use as a pizza topping with labneh for pizza party tomorrow. I couldn’t wait to try it so slathered it on freshly baked sourdough bread with labneh. Wow! Amazing! I’ve got Lebanese ancestry so I’ve made many Lebanese dishes and bakes including za’atar bread but this toasted with garlic is so yummy! Thank you!" - Deidre
This recipe for za'atar labneh is technically intended to be served as an appetizer, shared amongst several people. Or, and hear me out on this, you and your significant other can hungrily devour it for dinner along with warm buttered naan and a plate of crispy carrot fries and then sigh into a happy, contented kind of satisfaction because the world suddenly feels all warm and cozy.
Here's what we've got going on here:
- A bowl of rich and creamy, tart and tangy Labneh (super creamy middle-eastern soft, fresh cheese)
- Za'atar and garlic that's been simmered in olive oil until the garlic is crispy and the za'atar is intensely fragrant and flavorful
- A sprinkle of fresh parsley and a stack of warm, buttered naan
What is Labneh?
Labneh is a tart and tangy fresh cheese that's basically a super creamy strained yogurt. Think of it as a middle-eastern equivalent of sour cream or low-fat cream cheese. Except, honestly, it's better than both of those things.
Labneh is generally used in savory dishes, but it lends itself to an inexhaustible number of creative uses in the kitchen. It's also delicious enough to eat by the spoonful, straight from the container.
My goal with this recipe was not to cover up the incredibly delicious flavor of labneh, but to pair it with ingredients that would compliment it's tangy flavor and creamy consistency.
I like to serve za'atar labneh with warm, buttered naan and crispy carrot fries. But, you can serve it with any kind of crusty bread, toast or crackers, warm pita, or any kind of vegetables, raw or cooked.
Here's how to create a delicious mezze spread: Start with za'atar labneh, a huge pile of flat bread, and of course, a bowl of hummus. This classic Mediterranean hummus is a total crowd pleaser. Or, for something a bit more unusual, try this butter bean hummus. Add a couple of bowls of dried fruit and nuts, some marinated peppers, and maybe some roasted meat like a classic roast chicken.
And, while it wouldn't considered traditional in any sense of the word, I love to include a small bowl of miso butter in a mezze spread along with hunks of crusty bread. Miso butter takes about 5 minutes to prepare and adds a unique umami-rich element to a cheese or appetizer spread that's hard to beat.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
You only need 6 ingredients to make za'atar labneh.
- Several cloves of fresh garlic.
- Labneh. If your local supermarket doesn't carry labneh, or even if it does, you should know that homemade labneh requires 2 ingredients and about 5 minutes of hands-on time.
- Kosher salt.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil.
- Za'atar. Za'atar is a herby, nutty, slightly crunchy spice blend that can be found in most major supermarkets. You can also order it online. I like this Rumi Za'atar.
- Fresh parsley. Or, any kind of fresh herbs you like.
*See recipe card below for precise quantities.
Step-by-Step Photos and Instructions
Making za'atar labneh is a super easy 2-step process.
Add some olive oil, za'atar, salt, and minced garlic to a skillet and let it simmer for just a couple of minutes, until the garlic is golden brown and the za'atar is fragrant. Let it cool.
Scoop some labneh into a bowl and pour the crispy garlic and za'atar oil over the top. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and serve.
How to Serve Za'atar Labneh
My favorite way to eat za'atar labneh is with a stack of warm naan that's been brushed with melted butter and a plate full of freshly baked crispy carrot fries.
But, honestly, the ways to eat and serve this simple dish are endless. Here's some other ideas:
- Serve it with warm pita, crackers, crusty bread, toast, or even warm homemade flour tortillas
- Serve it with an assortment of raw vegetables
- Serve it with any kind of quickly sautéed vegetables
- It might sound strange, but crisp slices of apple are absolutely delicious dipped in za'atar labneh
- Spoon it over roasted cabbage
- Spoon it over a bowl of Indian Rice or dollop it on top of warm bowls of Indian Butter Chicken
- Serve it with any kind of grilled or roast meat, like this recipe for Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons za'atar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 ounces Labneh, prepared or homemade (*See note)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Add the olive oil, minced garlic, za'atar, and salt to a small skillet and set it over medium heat.
- As it begins to simmer, stir frequently, and cook until the garlic is beginning to turn golden brown and the za'atar is fragrant. This will only take a couple of minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- Scoop the labneh into a bowl, stirring it a bit as you do. Spoon the za'atar and garlic oil over the top of the labneh. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
- One reader commented that she sliced her garlic very thin instead of mincing it. This is a great idea that will change the texture of this dish slightly and, surprisingly, create a somewhat milder garlic flavor.
- Homemade labneh is incredibly easy to make, requiring only 2 ingredients and about 5 minutes of hands-on time. Here's how to make labneh.
- Scroll up for a list of ways to serve Za'atar Labneh with Crispy Garlic!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 264mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g