Produced in just a few hours from only two ingredients – yoghurt and salt – it’s easy to see why Labneh is becoming increasingly popular among food bloggers and writers alike. For those of you not in “the know”, labneh is a fresh soft cheese (also known as strained yoghurt) traditionally eaten in the Middle East. Though it is used in some cooked dishes, labneh works best as a dip or meze with a delicious topping of herbs and olive oil.
As its secondary name suggests, the process of making labneh involves straining the whey out of the yoghurt. This removal of the sweet whey intensifies the yoghurt-flavour, making for a rather tangy cheese. Of course, it is delicious served with only a little good-quality olive oil, but it really comes into its own with a little imagination.
By the way, if you thought spreading a thick layer of shop-bought cream cheese on your bagel in the morning was delicious, just you wait until you try this recipe. Breakfast will never be quite the same again.
• 500g natural yoghurt
• ½ tsp salt
1. With the yoghurt still in its pot mix in the salt. Line a sieve with a large square of muslin and tip or spoon the yoghurt into the centre of the cloth. Fold over the corners and stand a jam jar, or similar, on top. Set over a bowl and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
2. Remove the labneh from the muslin. At this point you can stir in whatever herbs/spices you like, or leave plain to be spread on bread, dipped or topped with other ingredients.
Cost: It doesn’t take an in-depth financial audit to realise that the cost of making Labneh entirely depends on your choice of yoghurt (unless you’re using some seriously expensive salt). Cows’ yoghurt tends to be a little cheaper than goats’ or sheep yoghurt. However, the flavour you get from the milk of our smaller ruminant friends could potentially help your Labneh stand out and give it a more authentic taste. In this case, the cost really is up to you!