Tomatoes and labneh, or white cheese, are staples on breakfast and supper tables. The cheese is usually eaten with bread, sometimes with za’atar, and the tomatoes are enjoyed plainly on the side. This salad takes those ingredients and makes it into a pretty dish with bread.
2to 3 sprigsfresh za’atarleaves picked (or use fresh oregano or marjoram, or in a pinch, thyme)
Line a sieve with paper towels and set over a bowl. Spoon the labneh into the sieve and allow to sit for about 1 hour at room temperature, until some of the liquid has drained and it is drier and easier to roll.
Transfer to a bowl, add the za’atar blend, if using, and mix to combine.
Line a plate with parchment paper. With lightly oiled hands, roll the labneh into balls the size of marbles and set on the plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
☞TESTER TIP: Wash and re-oil your hands after every 5 labneh balls so that the labneh doesn’t lose its shape.
Slice the tomatoes into rounds 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick and arrange on a serving platter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Spoon the mixture over the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with the sumac and salt flakes.
Top with the labneh balls and scatter with the fresh za’atar leaves. Serve with bread.
*What is a good substitute for labneh?
The tomatoes are the star of the show in this summer dish and any creamy counterpart helps them to shine. Feel free to use goat cheese, feta, or halloumi in place of the labneh.