An essential dip on our table and one of the most versatile preparations in our kitchen, this is simple, seasonal cooking at its best.
Our green labaneh is inspired by a traditional method used in Palestine and Jordan during the bountiful spring when an indigenous herb Hweirneh (حويرنة) is foraged in the wild. Hweirneh, a bitter cousin in the mustard family, is an acquired taste for some and a treasured spring delicacy for my family and many others. The leaves are not really ever eaten raw. The trick is salting them overnight and then pressing out all their water to expel as much excess bitterness as possible. They are then usually mixed with labaneh or yoghurt (or a mix of both) and served with excessive amounts of olive oil to round out some of their sharpness.
At the restaurant we’ve adapted this technique using many different kinds of bitter greens over the seasons. Any bitter, spicy greens work here, from mustard leaves to rocket, the result is generally quite consistent. Cucumber leaves are also a good option albeit yielding a different result, more like a play on cucumber yoghurt without all the pulp.
Our favorites may be radish greens, which we’ve used here. Their sharpness is reminiscent of hweirneh, they have a wider seasonal window and you get the added bonus of making use of these delicious leaves which almost always get discarded. When buying radishes (or any other vegetable) with leaves attached, make sure to chop the greens off immediately as they will make the bulbs wilt quicker. Try using the greens as soon as possible for the best results.
This recipe only uses four ingredients so it is crucial to use the best quality ones you can find. Not all labaneh is created equal and this will show. Use a better olive oil and swap any iodized table salt for a more mineral rich rock salt if possible. These choices will dramatically impact the taste of your mix.
Focus more on technique and consider the quantities listed as suggestions, depending on your own taste and the ingredients used feel free to adjust the ratios as you see fit. Increase the labaneh to mellow out the bitterness or use less to intensify it. Olive oil helps balance out the flavor as well but you don’t want to add too much into the mix. You can always drizzle more on top when serving.
We’ve also included two extra steps which would traditionally be missed. We mix the pressed greens with olive oil in a blender before gently folding into fluffy labaneh that has been whipped using a stand mixer. This unlocks the color and flavor of the greens and gives the dip a light and silky texture. You can skip these steps for a simpler but still delicious result.
Green labaneh is one of the most versatile preparations in our kitchen. We’ve used it in countless ways, from simply serving with bread, slathered on toast with eggs, as a base to a salad or dressing, a dip with fried or roasted vegetables and even in the place of plain yoghurt in fetteh.
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