After my four and a half bowls of ramen yesterday, I kind of felt like I never wanted to eat again. Then, around 2pm, my tummy started rumbling. Could it be? Was I hungry? Luckily, I had the ingredients for Fuji Apple Salad in my fridge.
This is a salad you can throw together quickly if you have everything you need. If you can’t easily find labne, substitute Greek yogurt and save yourself a lot of frustrated rare ingredient searching.
My search for labne took me all over the city. Labne is a Middle Eastern yogurt or soft cheese. Stubbornly, I wanted to believe that they’d carry it at regular grocery stores so I checked all the usual suspects. I figured, Greek yogurt is found in most in grocery stores, so why not Middle Eastern?
I was wrong, of course. There was kefir and Greek yogurt, but not Middle Eastern. Mike suggested going to a Middle Eastern corner store nearby and I almost got my hopes up, but they didn’t have labne, at least not the way I thought it was supposed to look. The shopkeeper showed me a milky, yogurt-looking drink, nothing like the thick yogurt I thought it would be like.
The next logical step was to visit an actual Middle Eastern grocery store. I looked in all of the coolers for a good fifteen minutes, but I couldn’t find labne. I asked the friendly owner if they had any, and at first, he had no idea what I was saying; I was pretty sure I was saying it wrong so I tried switching it up: lab-nay instead of lab-nuh. For the record, it’s lab-nuh.
He lead me over to a cooler that I already looked over twice and of course, there it was, just above my eye level. I should have felt like an idiot, but instead I just felt absurdly happy to see that clear plastic container full of soft, white cheese.
The labne, which is a mildly tart soft cheese, is mixed with maple syrup to create a slightly sweet, tangy sauce. On top of the maple labne sit fuji apples tossed in pureed kimchi. Pureed kimchi is really delicious; something happens when you puree it, the flavour mellows out without losing the bite.
It was a great salad, fresh with interesting flavour combination: crispy, spicy-sweet apples, smoky bacon, peppery arugula and smooth and creamy maple labne. I’ll be making kimchi apples again soon, they’re an addictive, healthy snack, just what I needed after my ramen binge.