Goat’s Milk Labneh
Labneh is a thick, creamy Middle Eastern yogurt dip, traditionally topped with a pool of olive oil and heavy sprinkle of za’atar– a green herbal mixture that features some combination of thyme, hyssop, oregano and/or marjoram with sesame seed and salt. (Some versions also contain sumac.) Alongside better-known mezze staples like hummus and babaganoush, labneh makes a delicious topping for pita bread or–in our case– gluten-free alternatives. My favorite gluten-free, pita-chip-like options for dipping include Baked Lentil Chips or Food For Life’s Brown Rice Tortillas, well-toasted until they are crispy and brown.
Labneh is hard to find in stores, even here in the New York area. So when my mother-in-law showed up here last week with a huge vat of it–that she made herself (!!)– I naturally started plying her for the recipe. As I’ve written previously about my mother-in-law and recipes, it can be hard to nail her down on the specifics. In true form, she was evasive when I started grilling her. But it turns out, her caginess was due to the fact that making homemade Labneh is so ridiculously easy that she didn’t want to fess up to the trivial amount of effort and expertise it required.
Here’s how to make home-made Labneh:
- Line a sieve or fine strainer with cheesecloth, a thin tea towel or two layers of paper towels.
- Place it over a large pot.
- Dump a 32 oz container of plain, whole milk yogurt* in it
- Leave it out at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Remove and discard the liquid from the pot. Refrigerate the strained yogurt until it is cold again.
- To serve: Spread onto a serving plate. Top with a pool of high-quality olive oil (fancy ones are great here, as you will really taste the nuanced flavors… a nice, green grassy one will be LOVELY). Sprinkle generously with Za’atar, which you will need to buy at a specialty shop or online. You can find it in supermarkets with a large selection of imported food products from Israel or the Middle East, at ethnic specialty markets like Kalustyan’s in New York City, or online. This dish makes a great appetizer, or a fabulous, savory breakfast spread.
*As far as which yogurt to use: My MIL used a local brand of cow’s milk yogurt called Seven Stars Farms, which works especially well since there are no added stabilizers that would make it difficult for the yogurt to strain well through a sieve. I made mine with plain Goat’s Milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farms*; after draining for two hours, about 1/3 cup of liquid had seeped through the paper towels into my pot.
I chose Redwood Hill Goat’s Milk yogurt because goat’s milk is about 25% lower in lactose than cow’s milk, which comes in handy when you are somewhat lactose intolerant and find yourself bingeing on copious amounts of labneh. (Also, since I’m feeding this to my family, I like that Redwood Hill Farm goat’s milk comes from a small, sustainable family owned herd where organic farming practices are employed.) It came out brilliantly– almost identical to my MIL’s version, with a very very subtle (almost undetectable, unless you’re looking for it) hint of the signature, musky twang of goat cheese.
* FTC disclosure: I am paid consulting dietitian for Redwood Hill Farms. (Which means I believe so much in the wholesomeness of their food and the sustainability of their production processes that I chose to associate myself with them!)Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.