This ‘yoghurt bride’ will become your favourite go-to sandwich (with vegan alternative)
By Diana Alghoul
As-salamu alaikum all! Today we’re going to share a very simple recipe that has been loved throughout the generations in the Levant region of the Arab world (Palestine, Lebanon and Syria). It’s a sandwich with rounded Lebanese pitta bread that is stuffed with yoghurt, olives and vegetables.
We call it ‘aroosat labneh’, which literally translates to ‘the yoghurt bride’ because the sandwich is wrapped in a burrito style which to many resembles a long, beautiful wedding dress. Growing up, this was our go-to weekend lunch, or a feel-good breakfast before school. Olive oil and zaatar are two signature items on the Palestinian plate, so this always made me feel close to my roots.
Zaatar was always a must-have ingredient in our breakfasts during exam season because it’s locally known for improving cognitive functions. In the Arab world, there’s a running joke that Palestinians are the smartest Arabs because of the amount of zaatar we eat!
When I went vegan for a few years, this sandwich was still a nostalgic favourite, so I did my best to replicate the flavours with vegan Greek yoghurt and got rid of the soya aftertaste by adding olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon into the mixture.
Nowadays, I have it with natural Greek yoghurt and enjoy it with either a strong Palestinian coffee (essentially Turkish coffee brewed with cardamom) or Palestinian-style sage and mint tea. Put on an Arabic classics playlist or enjoy it with a book set in the region and you’ll experience Levantine-style relaxation at its finest.
For Ramadan, this is perfect for a refreshing and nutritious suhoor and it can be cut into bite sizes as healthy sides instead of fried samosas. The yoghurt also serves as a balancing agent for spicy dishes if you’re looking for a way to prevent post-iftar heartburn.
Ingredients (serves 1 sandwich):
One round Lebanese-style pitta bread (there are various sizes, the larger the bread the more stuffing you need)
One small cucumber
Half a tomato
Five olives (I love mixing black and green)
One tablespoon of Greek yoghurt
A teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Anywhere between a sprinkle to half a teaspoon of zaatar
1. In a small bowl, mix the yoghurt, salt and olive oil, here you can mix the zaatar into the mixture if you want
2. Slice your vegetables and olives sideways in medium chunks
3. You can either have the bread whole or separate the two sides of the bread. If you want to separate the two sides of the bread by placing a heated sharp knife in between the sides from the edge and gently cutting along. To make it easier, you can place the bread on the stove for a few seconds to heat up and soften the bread
4. Spread the yoghurt mix on the left-hand side of the bread, making sure you don’t go over the half-way mark
5. Spread your vegetables and olives on the left-hand side of the bread
6. Sprinkle the zaatar over your sandwich if you haven’t put it in the yoghurt mixture
7. Roll up the bread starting from the side of the stuffing – because it’s a light sandwich, you don’t need to fold the top and bottom to seal it like a burrito
8. Say bismillah and enjoy!
If you make this amazing sandwich, let us know by tagging us on social media so we can obsess over it together!
No Lebanese bread? No problem, just stuff the ingredients inside a normal pitta bread. It’s just as traditional and yummy! Or use your own traditional bread to celebrate a hybrid of cultures in one plate. I once made this with leftover naan, and it was perfect.
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