Roasted asparagus with za'atar, smoked labneh and preserved lemon

Eating cuisine from around the world brings diversity to your knowledge about that place and your taste buds! This traditional Balkan meal is sure to be a hit with the family. Roasted asparagus with za'atar, smoked labneh and preserved lemon, can you say yum? A special thank you goes out to the Greek-inspired restaurant, Zaytinya for this recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch  Asparagus, pencil, bottoms trimmed
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tbsp. Grapeseed oil
1 tbsp. Za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend)
2 cups  Labneh or your favorite strained plain Greek Yogurt
1 ea. Preserved Lemon
2 oz. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, preferably Greek
Coarse sea salt like Fleur de Sel or Maldon to taste
 
*TO SMOKE LEBNAH:
  1. Prepare a smoker according to the manufacturer’s directions. We like to use cherry wood chips for this but Applewood and grape vines are great as well.
  2. Place labneh in a metal container (like a small mixing bowl or a baking dish) and smoke for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. When the cheese has cooled, mix thoroughly and season to taste with salt.
 
COOKING DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the broiler of your oven with the broiler pan sitting underneath.
  2. Prepare the preserved lemon by removing and discarding the flesh and finely dicing the peel.
  3. Mix the diced preserved lemon with the olive oil and reserve for plating.
  4. Toss the trimmed asparagus with the grapeseed oil and salt.
  5. Remove the broiler pan from the oven and place the asparagus on the pan.
  6. Place the pan with the asparagus back under the broiler and cook until asparagus is almost tender a lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes depending on your oven. Toss with za’atar.
  7. Spoon the smoked labneh onto the bottom of the plate.
  8. Place the roasted asparagus on top of the labneh.
  9. Spoon the preserved lemon oil over the asparagus and serve.

*Note: This recipe makes much more smoked labeh than required for the dish. Feel free to make less. Smoked labneh is a versatile and delicious ingredient that works as a spread with pita bread, as a garnish for lamb chops or to compliment almost any vegetable preparation. It is worth it to make extra.

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