As Barbara Massaad says in her recipe book “Mezze” – labneh is Lebanese “comfort food with a capital C”! Delicious, and easy to make, it’s the perfect vehicle for Zejd’s beautiful extra virgin olive oil.
Labneh, not available in UK supermarkets, is nothing more complicated than strained yoghurt, with a bit of salt. You can serve this as a “dip”, with a pool of Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil, and some toasted flat breads, and if you have any za’atar in your cupboards, left over from an Ottolenghi recipe, mix that with some extra virgin olive oil to have alongside. In Lebanon dried mint is sometimes dusted over the top. Claudia Roden in her cookbook The Med suggests folding in some crushed garlic, or scattering over some sumac, or a pinch of Aleppo pepper. So many ideas – you choose!
900g Greek yoghurt, plain
1 tsp fine sea salt
- Add the teaspoon of salt to the yoghurt and mix well.
- Sterilise a clean dishcloth by pouring over boiling water (or even better have a special piece of muslin which you keep for labneh).
- Line a bowl with the clean cloth and tip the yoghurt in.
- Bring the corners of the cloth together and tie a knot if you have enough material, or secure with a string. If you have somewhere to hang it, place the bowl underneath to catch the whey. You can also keep it in its cloth in a sieve over a bowl. The longer you leave it the firmer the labneh will become. Left for around 5 hours, the mixture will be soft and creamy; left overnight it will be thicker and firmer. If the weather’s hot, leave it in the fridge.
- Unfold the cloth and marvel at the beautiful creamy white ball! Spread on a flat plate and pour a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil.
Keep the whey for soups or stews, it’s full of protein!