Mediterranean: Kale with Anchovies, Capers & Garlic In Labneh

Dig in!

Dig in!

If you are suffering from a kale overload  (production can get a little out of hand even in a home garden this time of year) and have run out of inspiration for ways to cook it, here is another option that you might want to try.

Curly purple kale fresh from the garden

Curly purple kale fresh from the garden

Lightly cooking the kale with wonderful savory ingredients that you most likely have in your cupboard or fridge right now is great, but adding that mixture to labneh takes these ingredients to a whole new level.

This is Turkish labneh

This is Turkish labneh

First off: Labneh is a thickened yogurt or yogurt cheese typically found throughout the Middle East.  It’s pretty readily available these days, but if you are having a hard time finding it you can make it by simply straining thick, full fat Greek cow, sheep or goat milk yogurt in cheesecloth over a bowl for a day or so until enough liquid has drained out that it has more of a cream cheese consistancy. In fact you can even buy purpose made yogurt strainers online if you think you will be doing this often. Personally I like the flavor of the sheep milk labneh, but no matter what kind, these days I often prefer it over Greek-style yogurt in cooking as it adds another dimension to dips, sauces, marinades or even baked goods.  In fact, I have been known to add it to tuna fish salad..


You will be giving this dish and instant umami boost by sautéing anchovies, capers and garlic first along with chili flakes and then adding the chopped kale to this mixture (I took my inspiration from a Melissa Clark recipe) but that to me, though tasty, was in need of a something cooling and creamy.

One of the holy trinities of cooking: Capers, garlic & anchovies

One of the holy trinities of cooking: Capers, garlic & anchovies

That’s where the next player comes in..  enter labneh.  Once you have that delicious savory kale mixture ready, add some citrus juice, chopped nuts, chopped fresh herbs and fold into the labneh. It’s instantly transformed into a fresh yet rich dip or side dish that works well with anything grilled, or even on top of a baked potato.  

Here, with toasted, roasted garlic sourdough fingers

Here, with toasted, roasted garlic sourdough fingers

Ingredients & Recipe

Makes 3-4 cups 

5-6 cups fresh kale, chopped into strips - this can be pretty quickly chopped, not too fine.  If the stems are too tough, cut them off otherwise, slice those parts thinner

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 

6-8 anchovies - Use the good ones, usually Italian in a glass jar.  It makes a huge difference!

1 tablespoon capers, heaped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes, or a fresh or a small fresh chili chopped if you have handy

3 cups labneh or Greek-style yogurt

1 lemon and/or a couple of optional tangerines, juiced

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup lovage and/or Italian parsely, chopped

Salt to taste

Water as needed

Olive oil for cooking

-Chop the kale, garlic and nuts as directed above

-Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a preheated sauté pan. 

-Gently sauté the garlic, anchovies and capers and some until they are lightly golden brown - the anchovy will kind of disappear, which is fine.   

-Add the nuts towards the end of cooking the above step just to bring out their flavor a bit

-Add the chopped kale to the pan with a few tablespoons of water and cook until softened but still a nice green, approximately 5 minutes - you still want some texture left in the kale. Check the seasoning at this point - the anchovies and capers are pretty salty, so you may need to add only a little salt

-Squeeze in the citrus juice and toss in the chopped lovage and/or parsley, stir & then take off the heat

-Put the labneh in a mixing bowl and after the cooked mixture cools a bit, add it to the labneh and mix well.  Check for salt again and add to taste. Transfer the finished mixture to a serving dish and top with lots of chopped parsely and a drizzle of really good olive oil too, if you like.

Sauté capers, garlic & anchovies no darker than this please!

Sauté capers, garlic & anchovies no darker than this please!