You mightn’t realise it but you’ve probably got all of the ingredients you need to make labneh cheese sitting in your fridge and pantry. First up though, what is it? Labneh is a bright, fresh cheese originating from the Middle East. I love it coz it’s healthy, spreadable, inexpensive and can be flavoured or spiced up anyway you desire. This cheese is tasty, tasty smeared on toasted ciabatta and topped with a fruity jam or chutney and crushed toasted walnuts – and I promise, that’s just the start. It mingles well with sweet and savoury flavours and I’ve shared some ideas below as to how you can best enjoy it.
Here’s what you need:
- 3 cups Greek yoghurt
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Yield: 1.5 cups (but you can easily double or triple this recipe)
So the ingredients are easy done, now to the method:
Line a fine-meshed sieve with a double layer of muslin. In a small bowl, combine the yoghurt, lemon juice, and salt. Place the yoghurt mixture into the sieve and cover with more muslin. Set the sieve over a bowl to catch any drippings. Using a small plate and a large can, weigh down the yoghurt to press out the excess liquid. Refrigerate overnight. Or for a thicker, cream-cheese like consistency, weigh down with a couple more plates and refrigerate for a full day.
Here I’ve smeared plain labneh on the plate and topped it with a salad below.
If you’d like to infuse your cheese with lovely flavour, there’s a couple of ways to do it.
- Pull the yoghurt out of the fridge and whisk it up with your favourite fresh or dried spices, herbs and salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl and finish with a nice flourish of olive oil. Serve with crudités and Grilled Garlic and Herb Flatbread.
- Or, you can roll your cheese into small balls, place in a jar one on top of the other and pour in a homemade flavoured oil (e.g. extra virgin olive oil, finely minced parsley and the zest of a lemon). Allow the cheese to marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Remember that olive oil becomes cloudy and solidifies when refrigerated, but don’t fear: just bring to room temp and you’re oil will be silky smooth and golden again in about 20 minutes time. The jarred cheese should be good for about 2 weeks in the fridge.