Make your own cheese spread, Labneh. Easy and delicious!
Breakfast in the Middle East. There’s black coffee. Pita. Chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. Olive oil to drizzle at will. And labneh, a thick, yoghurt-based cheese whose sour taste perfectly complements vegetables, bread like zalabya, and olive oil. Labneh is as easy to make as our ricotta recipe. All you need is plain yoghurt and salt. Fancy equipment? Well, how about a clean kitchen towel and a colander, and a bowl? Because that’s all you need to make this versatile white spread.
3 cups plain white yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
- Mix the yogurt and the salt well.
- Place a wide, thin kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth in a colander (or sieve), and pour the salted yoghurt into it.
- Gather up the corners of the cloth and tie them into a knot. Place a bowl under the colander to catch the dripping whey or hang the bag over the sink. Note: a brand-new, freshly washed cloth diaper works very well too.
- Let the labneh release whey and become thick over 24 hours. It will have a texture like rough cream cheese. If you let it dry out two days, it will become quite firm.
- Don’t throw the whey out! It’s full of protein. Use it in baking – our sourdough recipe is good for this.
- Open the bag and remove the cheese, using a spatula or the edge of a spoon. Store your labneh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How To Serve Labneh:
- Spread it evenly over a medium-sized plate. Sprinkle with fresh seasonal herbs like mint, za’atar, or dill – or place a few olives around the center of the plate. Drizzle a thread of olive oil over all. Serve with pita or other fresh bread.
- Labneh may also be used as a substitute for sour cream in many recipes; for example, cheescake.
- If you allow your labneh to drain for 2 full days or more, obtaining a soft cheese, you can roll pieces up into balls the size of small eggs and marinate these balls in olive oil to cover, 2 peeled garlic cloves, and a tiny chili pepper. Labneh preserved this way will stay good for two months. It does become more sour as time passes, so taste it once in a while to see when you want to finish it up.