Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl with Aleppo Pepper Butter Sauce

Sorry, waffles but there’s a new brunch in town. Well, an old brunch, I suppose, but relatively new to me. Yes, I’m back with yet another labneh-rich delicacy. I tell you when I latch onto something, I bandwagon hard. When I discovered the considerable charms of labneh an embarrassingly short time ago, it hit me like a ton of delicious bricks. I’d been a lifelong fan of Tzatziki, so labneh fit me like an old shoe instantly and we’ve been inseparable ever since. If you want evidence of this deep affection, look here, here, and here. Really, this Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl should come as a surprise to nobody. It was only a matter of time before labneh would creep into my morning routine.

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Yogurt with mint, garlic and a drizzle of oil - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl
Creamy garlic labneh - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

Today’s Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl with Aleppo Pepper Butter Sauce borrows heavily from two ancient dishes: cilbir and fattoush. Cilbir is a Turkish egg dish consisting of thick garlic yogurt, poached eggs and a butter sauce seasoned with Aleppo pepper flakes. There are records dating as far back as the 15th century that reference the dish. It seems cilbir was the favorite breakfast of many an Ottoman sultan.  I think its influence on today’s dish is fairly obvious.

Pita for Fattoush - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl
Toasted Pita for Fattoush - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

The second dish is, as I mentioned, fattoush. Fattoush is a salad from Syria that is characterized by its use of toasted or fried bite-sized pieces of stale khubz, an Arabic flatbread. The salad belongs to a family of dishes known as fattat, all of which use stale flatbread as the key ingredient. A variety of vegetables can be used but you’re more likely to find the same medley you would in tabbouleh. Another identifying feature of fattoush is the use of sumac in the dressing. It can be substituted with lemon juice but the sumac is what gives the dish its signature sourness.

Veggies for Fattoush - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl
Fattoush - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

There is one more influence I think I should acknowledge. An Egyptian restaurant called Maha’s. I don’t get to eat there often because there is usually a hair-raising line. But when I do manage to snag a seat for breakfast, it is near life-changing. If you’re ever in Toronto, do yourself a favor and check them out. You will have to get up early to beat the crowds but the falafel egg will make you so happy you did. Anyway, I’m giving Maha’s credit for opening me up to the possibility of enjoying garlic-infused yogurt first thing in the morning. 

Eggs

So with all the thank yous and acknowledgments out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl is best approached in 3 parts. I would suggest tackling the labneh first. I know the use of the word “tackling” would suggest that the labneh is an undertaking but it really isn’t. It’s more or less a waiting game. You simply stir some garlic, mint, and salt into some full-fat yogurt and wrap it in cheesecloth. From there it’s as simple as tying the bundle to your faucet to let it slowly drain off. You only want to let this labneh go for 3 hours. I’ve drained labneh overnight before for thicker results, but for this dish I wanted the yogurt to retain more of its moisture for maximum creaminess.

Spreading labneh - Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

Next up is the salad component of this dish, which is simply a case of chopping, toasting, and tossing. Now, I did not go through the trouble of tracking down the Syrian flatbread used to make traditional fattoush. I just used the Lebanese pita that is a constant at my local grocery store. I cut the pita into bite-sized pieces, tossed them in a little olive oil and za’atar and popped them into a 400° F oven for 15 minutes. For the veg, I went with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mint, and curly parsley. The dressing is a simple affair comprised of olive oil, za’atar, garlic, and lemon juice. Honestly, you could make this salad and nothing else and be a completely happy camper.

Aleppo Pepper Butter Sauce

Now for the final stretch – the sauce and the eggs. For the eggs I prefer the method outlined in this post from last summer. I love a runny yolk, don’t get me wrong. But every now and then I dig a thick, custardy center. And in this dish, I think a set yolk works especially well. I understand the appeal of a runny yolk in a dish like cilbir. The yolk becomes apart of the sauce and gives it more weight and unctuousness. But, not to be argumentative, I think a spicy butter sauce is unctuous enough and if creamy is what you’re after, dig a little bit lower for a bite that lush labneh base. But if you’re thinking I’m out to lunch, by all means, reduce the cook time on your eggs by a 1 minute or 2. I won’t be offended.

Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

While your eggs are cooking and subsequently luxuriating in an ice bath, you can make the sauce. The Aleppo pepper sauce does, of course, require Aleppo pepper flakes. But if you can’t snag a sachet, feel free to sub in hot paprika. It will work just as well. Start with a dry, cold skillet and add a sizable knob of butter to the pan. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, leave the butter to cook until light amber. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pepper flakes and a glug of olive oil. The butter will bubble madly but it’s nothing to concerned about.

Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

From there it’s just a simple matter of assembling a bowl with all the relevant parts and finding a place to perch and eat. Really, this Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl is quite simple to pull off and far more filling, healthy, and satisfying than the average short stack. Give it a go sometime this week or save it for weekend company.

Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

Enjoy!

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Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl with Aleppo Butter Sauce

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Resting Time 3 hrs
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Garlic Mint Labneh

  • 1 1/2 cups full fat Balkan or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Fattoush-ish Salad

  • 3 Lebanese pitas cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil divided
  • 2 tbsp za'atar divided
  • 1 tsp salt divided
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2-3 mini cucumbers halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup curly parsley finely chopped
  • 1 lemon juiced

Aleppo Pepper Butter Sauce

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Savory Labneh Breakfast Bowl

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 batch Garlic Mint Labneh see above
  • 1 batch Fattoush-ish Salad see above
  • 1 batch Aleppo Pepper Butter Sauce see above
  • Fresh mint leaves for sprinkling
  • Fresh curly parsley coarsely chopped, for sprinkling

Instructions
 

For the Labneh

  • In a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine all ingredients.
  • Line another bowl with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth. Spoon the yogurt mixture into the center of the cheesecloth and gather up the edges to form a bundle. Tie the bundle to the faucet of your sink and let drain for 3 hours.
  • Untie the bundle and transfer the contents to a bowl. Wrap with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge. Chill until ready to use.

For the Fattoush-ish Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Place the pita ,half of the olive oil, half of the salt, and half of the za'atar in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Transfer the pita pieces to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pop the tray into the oven. Leave the pita to toast for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Take the pita out of the oven and set aside to cool.
  • In a small bowl whisk to combine the remaining olive oil, salt, and za'atar. Add the garlic and stream in the lemon juice, whisking constantly. Set aside.
  • Place the cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and mint in a large bowl. Add the pita and toss to disperse. Drizzle the olive oil mixture over top and toss to coat. Set aside.

For the Butter Sauce

  • Place the butter in a dry, cool skillet and place over medium-low heat. Melt the butter, then cook it gently until it turns a soft amber color.
  • Take the skillet off of the heat and stir in the Aleppo pepper flakes and the olive oil. The butter will bubble aggressively when you add the pepper flakes but don't worry about it. Keep the sauce warm until ready to serve

To Assemble

  • Place the eggs in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, stir in the baking soda and take the pan off of the heat. Cover the pot and let stand for 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the eggs to an ice bath and let sit for 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and slice in half. Set aside.
  • Spread an even layer of the Garlic Mint Labneh in four bowls. Top the labneh with a scoop of the Fattoush-ish Salad and two egg halves. Drizzle everything with the Aleppo Pepper Butter Sauce and serve immediately.

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