Labneh

Greek yoghurt is all the rage, just in case you are living under a rock somewhere. I had my first experience with it years ago when an old friend of mine introduced me to this pizza place(for my Halifax crew, it’s Euro Pizza) that has the best tzatziki! We would order their greek wraps which weighed about a pound and they were drenched in this stuff. It literally is as thick as cream cheese and what makes it even more impressive is they make it on the daily! For dessert they served this same, thick homemade yoghurt topped with honey and walnuts. This is the stuff that dreams are made of, thick, creamy, delicious dreams. 

Sorry – I got sidetracked by memories of dairy. Back to Labneh which is Lebanese in origin but very much the same product. It’s technically a strained yoghurt which I like to call a cheese. It’s a little tangy like yoghurt but it’s extremely creamy and slightly textural like a fine goat cheese. I made this ‘cheese’, for the first time, last weekend. Believe me it actually wasn’t hard or complicated just took some time and patience. I decided since it was my first cheese making experience that I would stick to the basics. However, I would highly recommend playing with this cheese as a base for dips, or creating new flavourful spreads by adding a few simple ingredients.

 Labneh

  • 2 squares of cheesecloth, approximately 2′ by 2′
  • 1 500ml (2 cups) container of yoghurt, I used 0% PC Plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • a chopstick or a wooden spoon
  • a tall bowl, I used a juice pitcher but an ice cream container would work as well
Method
The process is really simple. In a large bowl, lay out your cheese cloth. I placed one layer over the other, so it was technically two pieces folded in half to make four single layers of cheesecloth.
 Open the yoghurt and stir in sea salt. If you want to season it more, wait until it has finished draining. Add entire contents of the yoghurt to the cheesecloth lined bowl.
 
Pick up the cloth on the diagonal and tie, as far down to the yoghurt as you can without squishing out the sides. Place your chopsitck or wooden spoon over the first tie, pick up the remaining loose ends, and tie over the chopstick so that the whole thing is secure and can hang without loosening. Place in juice pitcher and store in the fridge for about 12 hours. The idea is to seperate the curd and whey even more, so you are left with a thick, creamy (low fat, if you use 0%) cheese. You can use any type or plain yoghurt, but I chose Greek Style because it’s already partially strained so it was quicker to make.
After enough time has elapsed, gently remove the cheesecloth from the sides of the cheese and place on a serving plate.
 
Top with oil, salt, olives and spices or use for a base for a dip. If you have a sweet tooth top with honey or maple syrup and nuts. Divine!

Seasoning/ Serving Ideas

Traditionally this is served with olive oil and olives. I have also seen it served rolled into small balls and covered with fresh herbs like mint or in paprika. I simply dressed mine with olive oil and more sea salt and served with sweet chili brown rice crisps. This cheese lends itself so well just about any flavour you can imagine, I plan to experiment a lot with labneh in the future.

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