Thursday, June 19, 2014

Labneh anyone?

I made labneh for the first time a few months ago and we liked it so much that it is now a staple in our fridge.  Labneh is a yogurt cheese made from simply straining the whey out of yogurt.  It is a staple in the Middle east, originating in Lebanon I believe.  It is a big breakfast food there. Labneh can easily take the place of cream cheese or sour cream.  I owe my discovery of labneh to the Shah's of Sunset.  Yes, I just said that!  It is reality TV show that follows a group of young Persians who left their native Iran and now live the high life in Beverly Hills.  I find that I focus on the food they are eating whenever I watch this show.  I often wish that I could be at one of their family dinners because the cuisine looks so absolutely amazing!  Anyway, after a few episodes I began scouring Pinterest for tahdig (a Persian rice dish) recipes and it gradually led me to labneh!  It looked easy enough and I had the ingredients that were needed on hand so I gave it a try.  The end result was delicious!    















Labneh

4 cups of plain full fat yogurt 
a good pinch of Himalayan salt
cheese cloth
a sieve
a large bowl
toasted pita bread

Toppings:
za'atar seasoning
freshly chopped parsley
freshly chopped mint
zest of a lemon as well as some freshly squeezed lemon juice
roasted and shelled pistachios
good quality extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Himalayan salt

Directions:
Place the sieve over a large bowl and place two large squares of cheese cloth on it.  Next, mix a good pinch of salt in the yogurt and then scoop it into the prepared sieve with cheese cloth. Lay the extra cheese cloth on top of the yogurt and then twist it together a bit (see pictures above).  I then cover the whole thing with plastic wrap so that it doesn't absorb smells from the fridge.  Place it in the fridge and let it drain for 2 to 3 days.  When you remove it from the fridge, you have labneh!  It is that easy!  Spread some on a plate, sprinkle the toppings on it, drizzle it heavily with olive oil, and serve it up with some toasted pita bread!  Chances are you won't use all of it in one sitting so you can form it into balls and submerge it completely in extra virgin olive oil, then store in the fridge.  It will keep for a month stored this way.  The liquid that drains from the yogurt is whey and you can use this too.  I save it and use it to make bread.  It is fabulous and you don't waste a thing!  Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

Photos by Becky Loves Cooking
Recipe by Becky Loves Cooking