Drizzled with a dressing of toasted sesame, chile, and fried shallot for crowd-pleasing dipping.
A simple dip of garlicky cucumbers in thick yogurt with lemon and mint gets a punch from warm chili oil spiked with crunchy toasted sesame seeds and crisp caramelized shallots. Serve with plenty of soft pita bread wedges for scooping, layer it onto grilled toasts or serve under smoky grilled lamb chops.
If lane isn’t available at your market, a good thick Greek yogurt also works, or make your own by letting plain whole milk yogurt drain for a few hours in the fridge (pour it into a cheesecloth-lined strained set over a bowl) to thicken it up.
Cucumbers in Labne with Toasted Sesame Chile Dressing
- 6 small thin-skinned cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 shallot
- ½ cup neutral oil (such as grapeseed or safflower)
- 1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup packed mint leaves
- 1½ cups whole milk labne or Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for serving)
- Using a kitchen mandoline or a sharp knife and a steady hand, slice the cucumbers as thinly as possible, almost shaving them (alternatively, use a vegetable peeler—you want them very thin!)). Place the cucumbers in a colander in the sink, toss with the salt. Allow to drain in the sink while you make the dressing.
- Slice the shallot very thinly and toss to separate into rings. In a small saucepan combine the shallot and the oil and place over medium heat; cook until the shallots are deeply browned and caramelized (keep watch over the pot as they will go from perfect to burned in a matter of seconds!), 10–12 minutes.
- Remove the shallots and oil from the heat and stir in the chile flakes. In a small dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds, tossing them in the pan, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the heat and pour seeds on to a plate to cool them slightly before adding them to the oil (otherwise they will hiss and pop).
- Squeeze them with your hands to remove as much excess liquid as you can, then transfer them to a mixing bowl. Finely chop the mint and add to the cucumbers, then stir in the yogurt and lemon juice. Using a Microplane, grate in the garlic clove (or mince to). Add a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, stir to combine, and taste for seasoning; add more salt if you like.
- Transfer the cucumber mixture to a wide shallow serving bowl. Dribble the sesame-chili-shallot oil over the top, swirling it into the yogurt, then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with more cracked pepper and any leftover minced mint; serve with toasted pitas or naan bread.