Labneh is yogurt that’s been strained to within an inch of its life, attaining a consistency closer to cream cheese than pudding. Freshly made labneh is a canvas for your imagination. The most immediate option is simply to sprinkle it with fresh herbs, sumac and za’atar, drizzle with olive oil and serve with pita.
This recipe was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
Use yogurt with no artificial ingredients or thickeners.
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 2 Cups plain Greek yogurt (see notes)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Step 1: Line a colander or mesh strainer with a couple layers of cheese cloth; set over a bowl large enough to hold it steady.
Step 2: In a bowl, stir 1/4 teaspoon salt into 2 cups plain Greek yogurt and scrape directly onto the cheesecloth. Bring cheesecloth corners together and twist or tie them together.
Step 3: Set the bowl with the strainer with the cheesecloth with the yogurt in the refrigerator for 24 to 72 hours. (The longer the drain time, the stiffer and drier the labneh.)
Step 4: After draining, squeeze the bag gently to release any more liquid. Serve labneh immediately (see below) or store refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 or 4 days. Alternately, roll labneh into 2- to 3-inch balls and place on a sheet pan. Cover with a clean towel and refrigerate overnight to firm up a bit. After the labneh balls have firmed up, refrigerate them, submerged completely in extra-virgin olive oil in an airtight container. They will keep up to 2 months.
Step 5: To serve, spread labnah in a thick circle on a plate. Sprinkle with one or more of the following: fresh minced herbs, dried or fresh mint, sumac, za’atar, smoked paprika, black pepper, crushed pistachios, minced garlic, or any other flavoring ingredients you like. Drizzle with a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.