Labneh: Better Than Cream Cheese

I sat here this morning, chewing thoughtfully on a warm double protein English muffin smeared with a thick layer of home made labneh, it’s tart creaminess contrasting with the sweet blackerry-raspberry refrigerator jam dolloped on top.

I only discovered the joy of labneh recently. I’d had it before, it’s used often as a condiment at my favorite restaurant Zahav, and is a staple in the Middle East. It is essentially the regional equivalent of cream cheese, made from straining yogurt until it’s thick and spreadable, somewhere between mascarpone and cream cheese in thickness and texture. It’s loaded with protein, too, and super easy to make at home. The recipe I used is simple:

  • 1 quart full fat Greek yogurt (I used Powerful)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Cheesecloth

Just stir the lemon juice and salt into the Greek yogurt, then wrap in layered cheesecloth and set in a colander in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. That’s it! Then it’s ready to eat. Last week I served mine on sesame Ezekiel toast and topped it with ripe persimmon and local honey.

The best part of labneh is it easily transitions from sweet to savory dishes. Traditionally it’s served doused with fruity olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar seasoning, served with warm pita bread. You can use it in a thousand other ways too: mix it with herbs for a dip, inside crepes, on top of pizza crust, the possibilities are endless.

Will you try labneh? You should!

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