1. Whisk together the yogurt, garlic, and salt to taste. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Remove thick spinach stems; if they are slim and tender, you can leave them attached. Wash the leaves well—they can be sandy—and drain. Put the leaves in a large pot with just the wash water clinging to them. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing with tongs once or twice, until the leaves wilt, about 2 minutes. Drain in a sieve or colander and chill with cold running water. Drain again and squeeze dry.
3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to brown and smell nutty, add the spinach. Season to taste with salt and toss well with tongs to coat the spinach with the butter. Keep hot.
4. Divide the yogurt mixture among 4 to 6 plates, spreading it into a pool. Using tongs, divide the spinach among the plates, placing it on top of the yogurt. Scatter 1 ⁄ 2 tablespoon dukka over each portion, and then garnish with a sprinkle of red pepper. Serve with flatbread or pita.
Making Drained Yogurt
I often drain yogurt, especially homemade yogurt, even if only for an hour. Draining dramatically improves the texture, making any yogurt thicker, creamier, and more mellow by removing whey. Draining also extends the yogurt's life by removing water and lactose. Reducing the yogurt's lactose deprives bacteria of their food source. And if you are lactose-sensitive, you should find drained yogurt more digestible.
To drain homemade yogurt:
1. Chill it thoroughly first until it is firm. You can drain it as soon as it is cold. Store-bought yogurt has already been chilled, so you can drain it immediately after opening.
2. Line a large sieve or colander with a triple thickness of dampened cheesecloth or—my preference—with Plyban, a reusable cheesecloth made from a food-grade resin (see Resources, page 135). Plyban's weave is tighter than cheesecloth, so you don't need multiple layers, although with very thin yogurt I might use a double thickness.
3. Set the sieve or colander over a bowl to collect the whey. Gently pour the yogurt into the lined sieve or colander. Cover with a plate or cloth—you're just protecting the yogurt, not pressing it—and refrigerate. Drain the yogurt until it has the consistency you like. After an hour, it will be noticeably thicker, and I usually stop at that point.
4. Scrape the drained yogurt into a clean container, cover, and refrigerate.
5. Wash the cheesecloth or Plyban well in hot, soapy water; rinse well and air-dry. You can usually get two or three uses out of cheesecloth before it frays. Plyban is much longer-lasting and easier to clean.
6. If you drain the yogurt more than you intended, no problem. Simply whisk some of the whey back in until you have a texture you like. To keep the whey, pour it into a glass jar and refrigerate. It has many potential uses.
I learned this method of pan-frying flatbread from chef Erik Cosselmon of Kokkari, a Greek restaurant in San Francisco.
Makes 6 flatbreads
For the sponge