The Holiday Scoop
Photo and food styling by Meda Kessler
Everyone Loves a good dip
Jennifer Shoucair Weaver is the consummate entertainer when it comes to friends and family, but she doesn’t shirk on making meals for one to feel special, either. The mother of two, Weaver is a fan of healthy and easy-to-prepare dishes. For the holiday season, she loves this dip from Alison Roman’s 2019 cookbook Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over. “It’s my go-to crowd-pleaser because (let’s be honest), I am really tired of the charcuterie board trend,” says Weaver. “It’s made with labne [you’ll also find this creamy yogurt cheese spelled lebneh, lebni or labneh], which is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Being half Lebanese, labne was a staple in our household. My favorite traditional way to eat it is for breakfast with warm pita bread, sliced tomatoes, olive oil and a generous sprinkling of za’atar, but this dip — which Alison describes as ‘almost ranch’— is a game-changer.” You can find labne at Central Market, where it’s also called ‘creme kefir’; containers are small, so you will need to buy two for this recipe. Za’atar, also available at CM, is a blend of dried herbs along with sumac and toasted sesame seeds. You can also find both at a variety of specialty stores. “I go to Apollo Greek & Mediterranean Groceries in Watauga or Giza Specialty Foods in Bedford. Labne keeps well in the fridge unopened, so when I buy it, I stock up,” she says. Weaver recommends making the oil a day ahead of time so it’s ready when you make this easy dip. — Meda Kessler
The Holiday Scoop
Makes 2 Cups
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I mix cilantro, thyme and chives) and more for garnish
- Flaky sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups labne (you can sub in full-fat Greek yogurt, but I promise it’s worth it to source the labne)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat olive oil, scallions, crushed red pepper flakes and herbs in a small pot over medium-low heat. Cook until the scallions and red pepper flakes start to sizzle (bonus if your oil turns a bright orange color, but if it doesn’t, do not let the herbs burn).
Remove from heat and let cool; season with salt and pepper.
Combine labne and lemon juice in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a bowl or onto a platter; drizzle the amazing oil you made on top. You can get fancy here and swirl it into the labne if you like. Top with a handful of fresh herbs.
Ta-da! You’ve just made the most delicious dip. Slice up some watermelon radishes and cucumbers, add rainbow carrots, sugar snap peas, hunks of crusty bread, soft pita or pita chips — whatever you like to dip — and dig in.