Someone once said ‘blessed are the cheesemakers’ and I think they had a point.*
When I was in Italy in the autumn we went to visit an artisan cheese factory somewhere in Umbria. It was all a bit stinky and damp, but the cheese was phenomenal.
Here is a way to make the super delicious Middle-Eastern yogurt-cheese labneh. It is also a bit damp, but not stinky. Much much love to Shana for showing me the way, and for the use of the genuine Australian cheesecloth.
To make approximately 500g of labneh you will need:
1 kg natural yogurt (low fat is fine)
A big bowl
To make the labneh exciting and delicious you will need:
Extra virgin olive oil
½ clove garlic, crushed (optional)
Big handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
Handful pistachios, chopped
1 tsp sumac
Fold the cheesecloth in half and drape it over the big bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth, gather the edges together, and knot or tie with elastic bands. Liquid will immediately start seeping through the cheesecloth. Hang the ball of yogurt so that it can drip freely, and leave overnight.
|Note the ingenious use of cupboard handle to hang cheesecloth|
The following morning, untie the cheesecloth and scrape the thickened yogurt-cheese into a container. Add a generous pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil, and mix well. At this stage you could also add a bit of garlic if using, some sumac, or any other nice spice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Before serving, stir through some fresh parsley and sumac, and scatter with the pistachios, and some more parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
You could also roll the labneh into balls, roll the balls in za’atar or chilli flakes, and store in the fridge in olive oil, which is very nice too.
*Because cheese is amazing. I'm not saying that I am especially blessed by making labneh.