A great Middle Eastern schmear

  • Spring Toasts with Labneh. Deb Lindsey / For the Washington Post

Washington Post
Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Visiting the yogurt case is like a taking trip around the world these days: Greek, French, Australian and Icelandic styles, and more. If you are lucky, next to those you will find labneh, the Middle Eastern yogurt so thick and spreadable it is referred to as a cheese. It has a rich texture and a refreshingly tangy flavor – something like a light sour cream – and I am officially enamored of it. I eat it by the spoonful on its own or with fruit, use it as a base for dips and dollop it into soups and sauces.

Because labneh is so thick, it is especially well-suited for smearing on bread, as it is in these toasts. I prefer the richness of the full-fat variety, but the low-fat version works, too, as does the plain Icelandic yogurt called skyr that has a similar consistency. (Skyr is also traditionally considered a cheese but it is marketed in the United States as yogurt.)

For these toasts, I like to use a dense, whole-grain bread studded with grains and seeds. The labneh is spread luxuriously on top, followed by a shower of spring produce – radish slices, sprouts and fresh mint leaves – and finally, a sprinkle of toasted sunflower seeds, coarse salt and black pepper. The toasts make a lovely seasonal nibble for company or for yourself as a breakfast, lunch or midday snack. And they are a wonderful reason, if you need one, to pick up a container of labneh.

Spring Toasts with Labneh

Here, the rich and spreadable Middle Eastern yogurt is smeared luxuriously on slices of whole-grain bread and topped with bright spring produce and sunflower seeds.

If you can’t find labneh, the Icelandic yogurt known as skyr will work instead.

8 slices crusty, textured whole-grain bread, such as from a “health” loaf (½2-inch thick slices, about 1¼ ounces each)

¾cup labneh (regular or low-fat; see note)

4 medium radishes, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons broccoli sprouts or other type of sprouts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted (see note)

Coarse sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Toast the bread.

Spread about 1½ tablespoons of the labneh over each slice, then top with the radishes, sprinkle with the oil, and top with the sprouts, mint and sunflower seeds. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then serve right away.

Note: Toast the sunflower seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until fragrant and slightly darkened, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid scorching. Cool before using.