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Cook | Maureen's Za'atar Roasted Tomato Crostini with Labneh

Maureen AboodComment

{Note from the Founder: When I started Team Yogurt, one of the first people I tapped as a Founding Contributor was my dear friend and colleague Maureen Abood. When I met Maureen several years ago, I was immediately taken with her elegant grace, her gentle warmth, and her extraordinary kindness. Maureen also possesses tremendous writing and culinary skills, both of which are on spectacular display in her first cookbook, Rose Water & Orange Blossoms. I'm proud to showcase Maureen and her work on this site through what I hope will be her frequent Lebanese-inflected contributions. Please enjoy. ~ Cheryl Sternman Rule}

Maureen's Abood's Za'atar Roasted Tomato Crostini with Labneh

(Reprinted with permission from Rose Water & Orange Blossoms © 2015 by Maureen Abood, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.)

The tomatoes take a couple of hours to roast, but they can be made ahead by several days and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; just don’t eat them all up before making these! It’s tempting, so I always roast a lot of tomatoes and keep them on hand for sandwiches, salads, pastas, and to eat just as they are. Assemble the crostini just before serving.

Makes 16 Crostini

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, 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.

Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes

Roasting cherry tomatoes coaxes their sweetness out of them and takes the flavor and texture of even less desirable winter tomatoes to entirely new heights. The addition of za’atar balances the tomatoes’ sweetness and acidity with a wonderful earthiness and tang. Use them on crostini topped with labneh, on sandwiches, in salads, or straight up on their own. Store the roasted tomatoes drizzled with olive oil in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week. 

Makes 1 Cup

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.

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Photographs © Jason Varney