Labneh has become rather commonplace for those of us living here in the Middle East. However, this ubiquitous luscious creamy dip that we’ve come to love has a history just as rich as its texture, having originated in the Levant region of the Middle East thousands of years ago.
Labneh is created when yogurt is placed in cheesecloth and strained to remove the whey, resulting in a silky thick texture. It is often used fresh as a spread, but as it continues to age, labneh is transformed into a cheese-like consistency with a firm bite and sharp taste, at which point it is often rolled into balls and preserved in oil.
While we’re used to ordering it in our za’atar man’ousheh from the local bakery or as part of a quintessential mezze meal, labneh is actually an incredibly versatile ingredient and can be used in many sweet and savory recipes, as its creamy texture adds a lovely tang and fluffiness to cakes and loaf breads.
In this recipe, Savoir Flair has used labneh as the filling for a tart. The labneh comes together with the eggs, vanilla, and sugar and, once baked, forms a heavenly custard-like flavor and texture. The rhubarb compote on top cuts the richness of the dish with a sweet tartness that complements the creamy labneh, while ground almonds form the crust, adding that oh-so-delicious nutty bite.
- 1 cup labneh
- ½ cup crème fraîche
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp almond meal (ground almonds)
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp flour
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cups rhubarb, roughly cut into chunks
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- ½ lemon, juiced
With a wooden spoon, mix the butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl until combined. Add the almond meal and flour. Use your hands to mix until it forms a dough. If it’s too crumbly and wet, add an extra tablespoon of flour until it comes together.
Using your fingers, press the dough evenly into a tart pan (14-inch rectangle or nine-inch round) and prick the dough with a fork to release any air. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 177°C for 25 minutes. Set aside.
Over medium heat, add the rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, salt, and lemon juice into a saucepan. Once the rhubarb starts cooking down (about four minutes), reduce the heat to low and let simmer for another three minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 148°C. In a bowl, whisk the labneh, crème fraîche, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean until smooth and creamy.
Pour the labneh mixture into the prepared tart shell and place into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then increase the heat to 177°C and bake for another ten minutes. Make sure to keep a vigilant eye on the tart during the last ten minutes of baking; if it starts getting brown, remove it from the oven. The tart should be firm with just a tad of jiggle when you shake it.
Serve with dollops of rhubarb compote and crushed pistachios on top.