Beyond hummus: Try these dips made of labne and nuts

By Evan Kleiman

Garlicky beet labne (right), with its bright fuschia, is topped with garlic and a squeeze of lemon. Muhammara (left) is a Syrian mixture of roasted peppers pureed with walnuts and wheat crackers. Photo by Zacile Rosette/KCRW

Who doesn’t love a dip, something smooth and thick enough that a quick swipe through the bowl with a crunchy vehicle delivers a flavorful and rich blob to your mouth for a snack or maybe dinner. We have been relying for far too long on that workman of dips: hummus. It’s time to go beyond and to pick something new to add to your repertoire. I’ve picked two that I make frequently. One is based on labne, drained and thickened yogurt. It has a similar vibe to sour cream based dips. The other is nut-based so is full of protein and so satisfying that it could be part of a light meal. 

I’ve spoken before of my signature dip, a garlicky beet labne. Its fuschia color comes from roasted beets that are grated into the labne. A hint of garlic and a squeeze of lemon lift the dip. It’s my favorite dip to accompany crudités. The other is muhammara, a Syrian mixture of roasted peppers pureed with walnuts and wheat crackers that are given a sweet-tart zing with pomegranate molasses. You can make muhammara with raw or toasted walnuts, according to your preference. It’s best made with sweet red peppers you roast yourself, but I’ve made it with good quality jarred roasted peppers. Most recipes are made in the food processor and are roughly pureed, so there is a bit of texture. But Ottolenghi has a recipe that’s made in a mortar and pestle that is a beautiful loose texture that would be wonderful on toast. Both dips are easy to make, can be prepared ahead, and make a colorful statement.