- 1 long, narrow baguette
- 1/4 cup / 60 mL extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons za’atar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Few grinds of black pepper
- 1 cup / 230 g labneh (see below), or substitute Greek yogurt
- 1 recipe Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes (see below)
- To make the crostini, heat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Thinly slice the baguette into 1/2-inch / 1.5 cm slices. Brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil, and season them lightly with za’atar, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange the slices on a sheet pan and bake for about 10 minutes, turning them over when the tops are light golden brown and continuing to bake until the reverse sides are also golden. Place a dollop of well-stirred labneh on each crostini. Top the labneh with two or three roasted tomato halves, then dust everything with more of the za’atar. Serve them immediately.
Labneh (Thick Yogurt)
- 8 cups / 2 kg yogurt (laban)
- Place a large colander in the sink or over a bowl to catch the dripping whey, and line the colander with a large sheer hankie, fine cheesecloth, a specialty draining bag, or an ink-free paper towel (a single layer).
- Pour the yogurt into the lined colander. To encourage and speed up the draining process, gravity is your friend. If you’re using a large hankie or cheesecloth, tie together the opposite corners of the cloth, hobo-style, and hang it from the faucet (be sure you can do without running the water for several hours, ideally overnight) with the colander underneath to catch the bundle if it falls. Or hang the bundle from a long-handled wooden spoon suspended over a deep bowl or pot. If you’re using paper towels, cover the top of the yogurt with another towel; keep the colander in the sink, or place it over a deep bowl (double boiler-style) to catch the whey. The whey can then be discarded.
- Drain the yogurt at least 4 to 6 hours, preferably overnight. It does not need to be refrigerated while draining.
- When the labneh is thickened, scrape it from the lining of the colander with a rubber spatula or, if it pulls away cleanly as it tends to do when drained in paper towel, simply turn the labneh out into a bowl. Add the salt and whisk the labneh well to smooth out any lumps. Aunt Hilda was so devoted to smoothing her labneh that she used to whip it in the stand mixer for a smoothness that would meet her exacting standards. A paper towel can be tucked in over the top of the labneh in an airtight container to absorb the excess whey.
- Cover and chill the labneh, ideally overnight, before serving. It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Za'atar Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 pint / 300 g cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (about 5 grinds)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons za’atar, to taste
- Line a heavy sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the tomatoes in half. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and stir until they are well-coated.
- Place the tomatoes on the sheet pan cut-side up, and top each with a pinch of za’atar. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven.
- Turn the oven on to 275 F/135 C (no need to preheat when roasting like this), and roast the tomatoes for about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes.
- The tomatoes are done when they are meltingly soft and slightly shriveled. They can be used warm or cooled to room temperature.