Recipe

Middle Eastern labne cheese

Learn to make this simple Middle Eastern yoghurt cheese.

  • 20 mins cooking
  • Makes 24 Item
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Labne is a strained yoghurt. Depending on how long you leave it to drain, it can be eaten as a dip, or rolled into balls and enjoyed plain, or sprinkled with herbs and spices. It is utterly delicious. You won't stop at just one.
One of the simplest and easiest cheeses you can make is labne cheese, or yoghurt cheese as it is also known.
Yoghurt is drained of whey for 2-3 days or until thick enough to be rolled into balls. It is delicious plain, or you can introduce other flavours by keeping it in infused oil or by rolling it in seasonings.
Stir labne through pasta, serve with salads or spread over bread. Don't throw away the marinating oil, you can also add that to the pasta; it can also be used to make dressings or brushed over toasted bread.

Ingredients

Labne
  • 2 cup (560g) greek-style yogurt
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 2 cups (500ml) plain or flavoured olive oil

Method

Labne
  • 1
    Place a sieve over a medium bowl; line with muslin. Stir yoghurt and salt together in a small bowl. Spoon onto muslin; gather into a ball, secure with string or an elastic band. Cover; refrigerate for 48 hours or until very thick. (The longer it is left to drain, the firmer it will be.) The leftover whey has many uses.
  • 2
    Using oiled hands, roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the labne into balls. Place in a 3-cup (750ml) jar; pour over plain or flavoured oil. Label and date; keep refrigerated.
  • 3
    To eat, remove labne from oil and serve as is or, if you like, roll it in a coating (see suggestions, right).
Black pepper, bay & lemon oil
  • 4
    Add 2 bruised garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs thyme and 4 thinly peeled strips of lemon rind to labne oil.
Fresh herb coating
  • 5
    Combine 2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, coriander and dill with 1 teaspoon sumac in a small bowl; roll labne in mixture.
Spicy coating
  • 6
    Combine 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes and 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind in a small bowl; roll labne in mixture.
Traditional #1
  • 7
    Combine ½ cup za'atar with 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint.
Traditional #2
  • 8
    Use ½ cup ready-made dukkah, or use the fennel, almond and pine nut dukkah recipe on page 273 to coat the labne.
Sweet apricot and almond
  • 9
    Stir 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste and 1 teaspoon salt into the yoghurt in step 2 (left). Very finely chop 4 dried apricots and ½ cup dry-roasted almonds; roll labne in mixture.

Notes

This recipe must be prepared at least 2 days before you want to serve the mezze. Labne will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator; pack balls into clean glass jar with tight-fitting lid, cover with olive oil, seal jar tightly before refrigerating.

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