I have been thinking of making this Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate for what feels like months. Putting together the ingredients in my head – would it lean in a whatever-I-had-on-hand direction or towards a more thought-out list of toppings, highlighting ingredients from a specific region? All I knew for sure is that a creamy, chili-oil streaked strained yogurt would form the base for a slew of toppings.
I recently partnered with PC Black Label on a year long campaign to #PlayWithYourFood, using some of their gourmet ingredients. Of course, I am thrilled to be working with a brand I use often at home already, but more than that this campaign is exciting because it’s fun to have someone else pick out the ingredients for you so you can push your kitchen comfort zone a little.
I’ve long been a fan of Labneh, the strained yogurt enjoyed in sandwiches and mezze in the Middle East, and make it at home often. Usually we roll a batch into small balls, place in a jar with herbs/chilies, top with olive oil and use it to add a zing to pasta or soups, to spread on grilled bread, in sandwiches and salads. It’s super versatile and it’s tangy, creamy flavour is especially welcomed in a spicy dish as it cools the heat.
The ingredients I received this month from President’s Choice Black Label were an Eggplant Caponata, a tangy sweet/sour stew of eggplant, celery and capers and a Peperoncini, Italian imported spicy chili peppers in oil. After spooning half of each the jars into my gob, taking a few minutes to put out the fire in my throat from the Peperonici (it’s so delicious I couldn’t stop – something about self control here…) I had so many ideas for them but wanted to honor their Italian roots and create something fresh, light, and unique. Sheep’s milk ricotta would have been a more authentic Sicilian base for the dip, but I couldn’t get the idea of a sheep’s milk strained yogurt out of my mind so I settled on that.
This dish is amazing for it’s balance of flavours, textures and colours. In one bite you get the creamy strained yogurt that cools the heat from the peperoncini, the crunch from the pine nuts and chickpeas, the sweet and tangy caponata, the briney capers and the warm, aromatic fresh oregano. It’s my favourite style of eating; Adaptable to your tastes and how hungry (or not) you are, a little taste of everything, best enjoyed with a glass of Nero d’Avola while you revel in good company, concerned only if the bread sticks run out. The strained yogurt can be made in advance and kept in a sealed container the fridge for up to 1 week as well, so you needn’t think too hard to put it together when your guests arrive.
You can find these PC Black Label Products online or in store – you don’t even have to go to Italy (but you should anyway). How’s that for convenience? If you’re experimenting with your President’s Choice Black Label products and share a photo, tag your inspiration it with #PlayWithYourFood to join in!
Antipasto & Strained Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Plate
serves 4-6 as an appetizer/antipasto
If you don’t like specific ingredients in this, like olives, feel free to swap it out for something more to your liking. Quick spicy pickled cucumbers or another pickled or fermented ingredient would help keep things balanced, but as long as you’re enjoying whatever you’re eating, you do you.
1 container (750ml) Sheep’s Milk Yogurt*
2 tsp PC Black Label Peperoncini oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup PC Black Label Eggplant Caponata
1/2 cup mixed olives, whatever you like best
1/2 cup crispy chickpeas**
1/2 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp fresh oregano, rough chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds, optional
extra peperoncini oil, for garnish
toasted baguette, crackers or bread sticks, to serve
MAKE AHEAD: Place a large coffee filter into a mesh strainer set over a bowl and add your yogurt, chili oil and salt. Give it a gentle stir and place in the fridge over night or at least 4-5 hours. You can save the leftover whey for other uses in the kitchen.
When ready to make your dip, and it should be made the same day you plan to eat it, scoop the strained yogurt onto a large serving dish and spread around with the back of a spoon. Make 4 small wells in the dip and to each add: the olives, the chickpeas, the caponata and the tomatoes. Sprinkle the capers, oregano and pine nuts over the whole thing and drizzle with extra peperoncini oil or olive oil. Drag your scooper of choice through the dip and get a little bit of everything in each bite. Best eaten the same day it’s made.
*You can usually find this at well stocked grocery stores, but otherwise check at your local health food store or your farmer’s market. I like to use full fat yogurt as it gives the dip a decadent creaminess. The lower the fat, the less creamy it will be so keep that in mind when choosing your yogurt.
**for crispy chickpeas, toss a strained and rinsed can of chickpeas with 2 tbsp olive oil, a few pinches of salt and pepper (and any other spices you might like – I usually play with curry spices or zaatar) and bake in an oven preheated to 375 for 20-30 minutes, checking and shaking the pan every so often, until dried out and crunchy. These make great toppers for salads, cottage cheese, stews and soup etc etc.
Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by President’s Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.