Merguez Yogurt Pinenut DIp
If you've ever been to my house for a dinner party, you know that 90% of the time, dinner begins with flatbread and dips. As a chili sauce producer, that seems obvious right?! I'm constantly playing with sauces and dips, different combinations of dried and fresh chilis, and pairings that result from hours of contemplation as I engage in my favorite activity - perusing the aisles at grocery stores, specialty food shops, butchers, and farmers' markets.
This dip arose from the wonderful offerings at my favorite butcher in SF, Olivier's Butchery in the Dogpatch. He makes the most amazing lamb merguez sausage. The merguez boasts a spice blend that I'm incredibly envious of - I need to charm Olivier into sharing the recipe! Buying a high quality merguez makes this dip phenomenally easy. I intended on making labneh as well (and you could still go that route if you plan in advance!), but I forgot (!) and greek yogurt worked just fine. Cook merguez. Pour yogurt into bowl. Top with merguez, cilantro-parsley, and toasted pinenuts. Put this appetizer out when you're in a time crunch, and I promise you everyone will sop up every last bit of dip.
*A note - if you want to make labneh (essentially a thick yogurt), do this two days prior to when you'd like to use it!
3/4 lb lamb merguez, in or out of casing.
1 cup greek yogurt (if choosing to make labneh, make sure to do 2 days in advance!)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup parsley
2 tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
3/4 cup pinenuts
1/2 tbsp aleppo chile flake
large flake sea salt for finishing
If making labneh: 2 days prior, set yogurt in a cheesecloth placed in a colander. Set colander over a deep medium bowl. Bring edges of cheesecloth over the yogurt. Let liquid drip out over 2 days into the bowl. Squeeze any excess liquid out before using.
Finely chop cilantro and parsley, and mix with 2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp aleppo chile flake.
In a cast-iron skillet, bring heat to medium-high. Toss in coarsley chopped merguez, cut to roughly 1/2" pieces. Let merguez sit in hot pan for at least 90 seconds, until one side is lightly charred. Turn heat down to medium. Toss merguez until cooked on all sides, about 2 minutes more. Set cooked merguez aside. In the same cast-iron skillet over medium heat, cook the pinenuts, tossing frequently. This will take at least 3-4 minutes, but stir very frequently - pinenuts can burn in an instant! What you should have is toasty pinenuts cooked in the merguez fat...also known as absolute deliciousness.
Place greek yogurt or labneh in a bowl. Top with lamb merguez, cilantro-parsley mixture, and toasted pinenuts. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with large flake sea salt.
Serve with grilled flatbread.
Serves 4 as an appetizer.