Every now and again, you realise that something is so easy to make that you wonder why you haven’t been making it for years. Over the years many things have made their way into my cooking lexicon on account of them being super simple, and this time I’m adding Labneh to the repertoire.
Labneh is quite simply a cheese made from yoghurt. It is made by draining the whey from yoghurt which results in a thicker consistency that retains yoghurt’s distinctive sour taste. The length of time you strain it determines the end result. Strain it for just 12 hours and you are left with a thick dip-like consistency, but strain it for a couple of days, and you will end up with a more malleable cheese that you can roll into balls and use in a whole raft of ways – rolled in fresh herbs, marinated in oil and aromatics etc. Below, I show you how to make labneh yourself at home.
I recently spent a full Saturday at The Cheesemaking Workshop learning how to make yoghurt, mascarpone, labneh, quark, feta and camembert – a whole lotta cheeses. I had already been experimenting with Labneh before the class, but after, I was inspired to make it at home (with my own homemade yoghurt, but don’t worry you can use store bought) along with this wonderful salad inspired by a similar dish I had at Bar Lourinhã in Melbourne a couple of months ago.
So, instead of just giving you the How To method for making Labneh, today you get two for the price of one as I also bring you a recipe for a Warm Zucchini, Fennel and Labneh Salad which is definitely the best vegetarian salad I’ve ever made.
How to make Labneh
- 500g greek yoghurt
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- Parsley sprigs
Place a sieve over a medium bowl that will fit in your refrigerator and line the sieve with muslin or cheesecloth.
Stir the yoghurt in its pot till it is an even consistency and then pour the yoghurt into the muslin. Gather the edges of the muslin together and tie together over the yoghurt covering it. Place the entire bowl (with sieve, muslin and yoghurt) in your refrigerator and leave the whey to drain for 2-3 days.
Gently squeeze the muslin after 3 days to release any remaining whey and discard the whey from the bowl (use it to water your plants, or use it in place of buttermilk for baking). Open the muslin and roll the cheese into 4cm balls in your hands - makes about 6-8 balls. Place the balls in jars delicately and top with a couple of garlic cloves and some parsley sprigs, then pour over a mixture of 3/4 olive oil and 1/4 vegetable oil into each jar.
Place in the fridge and leave overnight before eating to marinate. Submerged in oil, the labneh will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge.
Warm Zucchini Fennel and Labneh Salad
- 2 fennel bulbs, quarted
- 2 zucchinis, quartered (courgettes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more to serve)
- Parsley sprigs
- Zest 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
- Sea salt flakes
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit).
Place fennel quarters on a roasting tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes before turning the fennel over and roasting for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium high heat and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grill the zucchini quarters on each side until golden charred lines are on all sides.
To serve, place two labneh balls on the bottom of your serving plate and using the back of a spoon spread across the bottom of the dish. Layer the roasted fennel and grilled zucchini on top of the labneh and top with parsley sprigs, lemon zest and almonds. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and serve