Market ingredient: Lush natural yoghurt
Difficulty: Really easy & super versatile
Did The Beard like it? “mmmm, perfect”
I thought I would do a little shout out to the Lebanese sour, yoghurty cheese so loved by The Beard. Pretty rare that I go all Nadia Comaneci-styles with Lebanese food, but The Beard seemed to really enjoy this one. Since dating the guy, I have grown to love this stuff. With a ricotta-like consistency and a delicious tartness, this is the perfect addition to a middle eastern mezze. Scoop it up with fresh Lebanese bread. It’s actually perfect plain and spread on toast as well.
However, I thought I would have a crack at creating a marinated version. Now you could do this hardcore and make the yoghurt from scratch and use a fancy cheese making contraption. But no-one I know has the time for that, so I thought I would share The Beard’s favourite method using the kitchen sink and a couple of (clean) chux cloths (in lieu of actually owning a cheesecloth).
Note: The cheese is best left over night in the sink, or for even longer in the fridge, if you’d like a harder cheese.
Ingredients for marinated labne
- 500ml good quality, unsweetened yoghurt. Something like Dairy Farmer’s Greek Yoghurt will definitely work well.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Good quality olive oil for marinating.
- Mixture of your favourite herbs and spices (fresh or dried). I used 1 sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme, 1 clove garlic, 1 slice of lemon rind, sumac and dried mint
- 2 large new and clean chux cloths
- 2 large rubber bands
- Mix the tsp of salt into the tub of yoghurt. Mix well until completely dissolved / combined.
- Take 1 large new and clean chux cloth and place it in a strainer over a large bowl. Take the second chux and lay it over the first so that the mesh is running at opposite angles on both sheets (to make the finest holes possible).
- Carefully tip the yoghurt mixture on top of the cloths in the strainer. Wrap the cloth up and around the yoghurt, bunching it at the top of the ball. Take 1 rubber band and tie the cloth tightly at the top. You’ll start to see liquid ooze out of the yoghurt and through the cloth.
- Take the bowl, strainer and yoghurt over to the sink. Take the second rubber band and wrap it twice around the bunched cloth above the yoghurt ball. Then wrap the rest of the rubber band up and around the tap spout on your sink, so that the yoghurt ball is suspended from the tap.
- Leave the yoghurt over night to drain of most of the fluid. In the morning, remove the cheese from the cloth and, voila! You have labne. This can be eaten immediately, however, if you would like a firmer cheese (which is recommended for marinating), remove the yoghurt ball from the tap. Leaving the yoghurt wrapped in the cloth, sit it on the strainer above a bowl and leave in the fridge for another day or 2.
- To marinate the cheese, take the rosemary, garlic, thyme and lemon rind and place in a small container. Place equal amounts of sumac and dried mint on a plate and spread out to form an even layer. Take a small amount of labne in your hand and roll into a small ball, roughly the size of a Ferrero Rocher. Place the ball on the spice plate and roll it around until the labne ball is coated. Place in the container. Continue to make small balls until the container is basically full.
- Fill the container with good quality olive oil until the labne balls are covered. Place the lid on the container and refrigerate until needed.
- Serve on a mixed Mediterranean or middle Eastern Mezze plate. YUM.
As I said, I’ve become a bit of a fan of labne since dating The Beard. It’s delicious and something a little bit different to add to your mezze plates. Your options for marinating are endless and you’re only limited by the combinations of herb and spice flavours you can come up with. You could use a combination of fresh and dried mint, or pepper, coriander seeds and paprika or just a whole bunch of mixed fresh green herbs and lemon rind
Let me know what you think!