Labneh with Tomatoes, Pesto, and Tapenade

Labneh with Tomatoes, Pesto, and Tapenade

(Serves up to 12, fewer if you serve the spreads in stages)

Excerpted from Yogurt Culture, © 2015 by Cheryl Sternman Rule. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

My inspiration for this recipe comes from a dip I enjoyed at the boisterous Jerusalem restaurant Machneyuda. There, Chef Uri Navon serves several colorful spreads in a single bowl, and the result, which resembles a painter’s palette, is both playful and renegade. I start with a base of creamy labneh, then top it with generous mounds of roasted tomatoes, pistachio pesto, and kalamata tapenade. Make each component separately (you can prepare them all ahead) and use as much as you like of each element. 

You’ll want to compose only as much of this dip as you plan to serve at once. Store the remaining components separately in the fridge, and use fresh labneh for subsequent batches. The smaller amount of labneh will serve 4 to 6, the large amount 10 to 12.

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup pitted kalamata olives, rinsed
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

3/4 to 1 1/2 cups labneh, homemade or store-bought
Warm, toasted pita wedges (see Yo!)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Lay the tomatoes cut side up on the sheet and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast until collapsed, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool. (Makes 1 generous cup.)

In a mini food processor, pulse the garlic, pista¬chios, basil, and salt until finely chopped. Add the oil a bit at a time, processing in bursts, until the pesto is emulsified. (Makes 1⁄3 cup. A little goes a long way.)

In a mini food processor, pulse the olives, capers, and anchovy paste, if using, until paste-like. Drizzle in a touch of oil, only if desired. Season with lemon juice to taste. (Makes 3/4 cup.)

Spread the labneh in a shallow serving bowl, using the back of a spoon to make a wide indentation in the center. Dollop with dis¬tinct, heaping scoops of the roasted tomatoes, pesto, and tapenade. Serve with warm pita wedges.

Because you’re making smaller portions of each element than you normally might, I highly recommend using a mini food processor. It’s the perfect size for the pesto and tapenade.

To make toasted pita wedges: Cut whole-wheat pitas into wedges. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, or za’atar. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven until crisp, about 10 minutes. Make more than you need, as these disappear fast.