Labneh … why you need to be making (and eating) it
If you aren’t familiar with labneh you are missing out on a truly delicious experience. Labneh is a thick, creamy, and tangy yoghurt cheese. It is a favourite in Middle Eastern cuisine and is easy to make at home. Labneh is also great for you, with all the health benefits and probiotics of yoghurt, plus it is super-versatile; you can enjoy it for breakfast, as a base for making dips, served with meat, or used as a marinade, and it is delicious served with vegetables and grains. Inspired to make your own? Read on to learn how and for some suggestions for how to enjoy it.
Making labneh at home is really easy. You will need a linen tea-towel or a piece of cheesecloth or muslin, a strainer, a large bowl, salt and a good quality full-fat yoghurt. If you want to make 2 cups of labneh, you’ll need about 4 cups of yoghurt and a teaspoon of salt. Begin by stirring the salt into the yoghurt and mixing well. Then pour the yoghurt into the tea towel and sit it over the strainer set over the bowl to catch the liquid. Grab the corners of the tea towel and twist tightly to close. Place the whole lot in the fridge for 24 hours. You can use a can of soup or something similar to add weight to the top of the towel which will help to drain the liquid more quickly from the yoghurt. If you are planning on using your labneh as the basis for a dip, 24 hours draining will give you a good consistency. If you want a more cheese-like consistency leave it for another 24 hours. Labneh can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Thicker, cheese-like labneh can be rolled into balls and stored, covered in olive oil, in a sterilised jar in the fridge for several months.
If making dip with labneh, serve it in a shallow bowl and make a well in the centre and add olive oil and za’atar or chopped fresh herbs. Other toppings to try are sumac, chili, lemon juice, lemon zest, preserved lemon, roasted garlic, olives, smoked salmon, honey, nuts and roasted fruit. Labneh can be spread on sandwiches or try it on toast drizzled with honey and chopped nuts. Add a dollop to sauteed greens with a drizzle of olive oil or serve alongside grilled meat. Enjoy it for dessert with roasted fruits, honey and nuts or add icing sugar and vanilla to labneh for a fantastically flavoured icing for cakes.