All Dolled Up Labneh Dip and Zaatar Pita Chips: A Lebanese Recipe Perfect My Holiday Gathering

Every family has holiday traditions. Perhaps, it is picking out a Christmas tree or always serving hot cocoa to Santa on Christmas Eve. For my family, ours is apparently a tree-trimming gathering. Last year, I didn't host one because we were still in the middle of our move to our current house. By skipping a year, I learned that I must have established a post-children "family tradition." My Mom told last week that she could not believe I did not do the tree trimming meal last year because she looks forward to the tree-trimming more than Christmas. 
Honestly, I think it's the chicken tetrazzini I usually make with my wintry green salad with cranberries and citrus that she missed the most.  But, regardless, our tree-trimming gatherings are usually quite the crazy family affairs.The kids usually fight, an ornament gets broken, Will usually complains I'm not helping enough with the tree and well, you all know the struggles with those darn strands of lights. One bulb is out every single year. 
This year with my being out of town, we needed to trim the tree on a weeknight and I just could not get a home-cooked meal together. One thing my family can count on is me mixing it up a little. No doubt about it, my personality tests say I'm quirky and that translated into Southern BBQ and Lebanese food. All items were take-out except for a Lebanese dip I made from a recipe given to me by Simone Saleh. Her family owns the restaurant Sassool Cafe with locations in Cary and North Raleigh. 

I interviewed Simone for a Live #OutaboutNC moment where she pulled things from the restaurant's new market area for this labneh dip recipe. She also gave me insight into Lebanese food.  In the live moment, we talked more about how labneh is used. I had never tasted it before and it's difficult to find except in specialty stores.  It also can be used as a substitute for recipes that use sour cream.  It is rich, creamy and delicious. It serves as the base for "All Dolled Up Labneh Dip" along with mint, olives, olive oil and zaatar spice. 

Labneh Dip with Zaatar Pita Chips

The pita chips are so easy to make, but Zaatar is the secret ingredient along with Lebanese olive oil. With Simone's wisdom, I learned that quality olive oil is most important for salads and such. One should not pay top dollar for olive oil then saute with it. Save your money there. Where has she been all my life? She suggested grapeseed oil for frying. My time with her was fantastic and I learned so much about Mediterranean cuisine. The video below details a second interview we did that incorporated more of Sassool's new market area. And you will not believe what she had to say about one of my favorite dishes, grape leaves so watch this video when you have time. 

Most of the items that I used for this appetizer can be found in the Sassool market. I really liked it and have found a new found love for pomegranate seeds which is the topping for the dip. 
All Dolled Up Labneh Dip and Zaatar Pita Chips

A Lebanese dip used for entertaining

Ingredients: Italicized items can be found now at Sassool. 
For Labneh Dip:
·         16oz labneh (Byblos brand recommended)
·         2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint leaves
·         2 tablespoons of chopped pistachios
·         1 tablespoon of chopped pitted Kalamata olives
·         pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
·         1/4 cup of Zaatar spice
·         1/4 cup  Saifan brand Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·         1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds

For the Zaatar Pita Chips:
·         1 pack pita bread, 4 rounds, cut into wedges
·         2 tablespoons of Zaatar spice
·         1 tsp salt
·         2 Tablespoons of Saifan Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.       Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Start by making the Zaatar Pita Chips, open the pocket of each pita round, cut up each side 8 wedges .  In a small bowl, mix the zaatar spice and olive oil.
2.       Lay the pita bread wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush them with the Zaatar, salt and olive oil mixture. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy.
3.       Put pistachios on a small baking pan as well and let them toast while pita chips are baking.  Allow time for pistachios to cool before adding to labneh dip.
4.       In a small bowl, add in chopped mint, toasted pistachios, chopped olives, pepper flakes, zaatar spice, pepper flakes and olive oil. Mix the topping ingredients well.
5.       Spread your labneh in a shallow bowl and spoon the topping ingredients over the top of the labneh and allow it to drip from the sides. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top.
6.       Serve with warm crispy pita chips 

Blogger Leigh Hines shares the Lebanese Labneh Dip she got from Sassool Cafe in Cary, N.C.

My tree-trimming gathering was crazy as ever this year. Andy, our new poodle, joined in on the chaos.

Liza still had Uncle Mitch to pick her up to put the ornaments up higher.

Hines Tree Trimming

And MiMa got a meal.


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All Dolled Up Labneh Dip and Zaatar Pita Chips are a Lebanese entertaining staple. This recipe using labneh as the base and includes Zaatar Spice, Black Olives, Olive Oil, and Pomegranate Seeds.

Disclosure: #OutaboutNC Live Moment was sponsored and the majority of the items for the recipe were complimentary from the new Sassool market. 

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