• Andrew Zimmern Cooks: Labneh Dip


Labneh Dip with Peppers & Radishes

Recipe adapted from Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel by Alon Shaya

In this episode of AZ Cooks, I’m cooking the book, finding inspiration in my friend chef Alon Shaya’s new cookbook Shaya, a moving culinary memoir filled with recipes reflective of his path to becoming one of this country’s most celebrated chefs. Like his namesake award-winning restaurant, there is a genius mash-up of Israeli and Southern cuisines, alongside a balance of traditional and innovative techniques. A dish I’ve enjoyed numerous times visiting Shaya in New Orleans, I chose to make labneh, a creamy, rich and tangy yogurt cheese topped with peppers, radishes and olive oil.

Watch Andrew make this recipe:

Andrew Zimmern Cooks: Labneh Dip

Servings: 4 to 6


  • 8 cups Bulgarian yogurt
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Serrano peppers, diced
  • 1 fresh red chile. diced
  • 1/4 cup fennel, diced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
  • Pita or crusty bread, for dipping


Fold a 30-inch square of cheesecloth into eight layers, and place it in a large sieve set over a deep nonreactive bowl. (Or, for serious Bulgarian street cred, tie the ends of the cheesecloth around the handle of a spoon after you’ve added the yogurt and set it over the rim of a large glass jar so it can drip freely.)

Combine the yogurt with 1  1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Pour it into the cheesecloth, cover the top loosely with plastic, and let it sit at room temperature overnight, giving the yogurt plenty of time to release all its excess water. (It’s super acidic and cultured, so it won’t go bad, but if this makes you squeamish, the whole thing can be done in the fridge; just allow twice as long for it to drain.)

After 12 to 15 hours, you should have 2 to 3 cups of thick, very creamy labneh remaining in the cheesecloth, and at least 5 cups of whey in the bowl. Use a spatula to scrape the labneh into a container, then keep it at room temperature if you’re about to serve it; otherwise, cover and refrigerate.

Combine the water, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and baking soda, and bring it to a boil.

Cook the chiles and fennel in the boiling water for 30 seconds or so, just enough to take off the raw edge. Drain, and rinse with cool water so it cools completely.

Spread the labneh in a wide, shallow bowl, making a wide well in the center, so the cheese comes up the sides of the bowl a bit. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, fennel, chiles, and radishes to the middle. Garnish with scallion and cilantro. Serve with plenty of bread for dipping.

Excerpted from Shaya by Alon Shaya. Copyright © 2018 by Alon Shaya. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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