WATERMELON, LABNEH and DUKKAH salad

Sometimes the simplest things can be fabulous especially when revisited. Compliments time after time after time and great for summer! This is what I have presented as a starter – labneh, dukkah and watermelon with a sprinkling of fresh mint and a dressing made mainly with pomegranate molasses.

Labna-watermelon-2-452x300

It has been a while since I have made dukkah or Labneh (labna, lebnah, labne, labni,). Both are simple to make and are very versatile. I like having things on standby and both keep well in the fridge in a sealed glass container.

Dukkah is a dry spicy mix of sesame seeds, nuts (can be hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts) and spices – mainly cumin and coriander – but variations also include small quantities of black pepper, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Apart from dipping good quality bread into extra virgin olive oil and then into dukkah, I may use it as a topping for cooked vegetables and salads or a crumb coating for meats, fish, cheese or vegetables.

I use a heavy frypan to toast everything. I used a combination of pistachio, walnuts and pine nuts in mine. If you use pine nuts they will need very little toasting – they burn quickly.  I also added pepitas; this seemed appropriate because of the watermelon.

¾ cup sesame seeds
½ cup coriander seeds
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp salt
1 cup of nuts
some white and black pepper corns
a pinch of or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg
Place nuts in a frying pan and over medium-high heat toast them until they begin to colour. Remove from pan and set aside.
Toast coriander seeds and sesame seeds the same way as the nuts and when they are nearly golden add all of the spices, salt and pepper corns.
Let cool. Blend together. On this occasion I blended the nuts separately as I wanted them to be chopped in larger pieces.

Figs, labna & olives 3 _best

Labna is strained yoghurt and can be used in both in savoury and sweet dishes. It is popular in the Middle East and I mostly use Labneh as I do feta, for example to stuff figs or in dips.

Labneh

500 ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Leave the yoghurt to drain about 8 hours or longer. I usually place mine to drain in the fridge.
Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yoghurt can drain off naturally.
Place the drained yoghurt in a bowl.
Coat hands with extra virgin olive oil and shape Labneh into egg shaped balls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and store in the fridge until ready to use. If you intend to store the Labneh balls for more than a day cover with extra virgin olive oil.
When it is time to serve it, drain it and top with fresh herbs or dukkah.

Dressing for Watermelon, combine together:

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 lemon: juiced + zest
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of sesame oil and of flower or orange water
1 fresh chilli, cut finely (optional)

 

To assemble

As you can see from the photo I assembled the balls of Labneh first on a plate coated with extra virgin olive oil.
I surrounded the watermelon pieces around the Labneh and sprinkled everything with some dukkah, mint leaves and the dressing.

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