LABNEH (from Megan)

My Armenian grandmother made yogurt every week when my mom was growing up. While it was fermenting, she would wrap it in an old coat of my grandfather’s and leave it in the oven. My mom says that for a long time she believed yogurt could only be made by using that specific coat.

 

Quarantine has given me the opportunity not only to revive the Middle Eastern art of weekly yogurt-making, but also to make my own labneh, an addictive yogurt-cheese that can be eaten on everything from soup to bread to eggs. If you haven’t had labneh, you are in for a treat! It is super easy to make. You can make it using either purchased or homemade yogurt (you don’t need my grandfather’s coat, I promise); if you want to try making the yogurt, I use this recipe as a starting point.

DIRECTIONS

  • Stir a scant 3/4 teaspoon salt into a large container of yogurt (about 32 ounces). Don’t oversalt -- it is going to thicken. You can always add more later if needed. Some people like to add a squeeze of lemon here, too.
     

  • Set a colander or large sieve over a deep bowl and line with an extra large coffee filter (apparently you can also use several layers of cheesecloth, or a linen or muslin towel, but I work with what I’ve got). 
     

  • Pour the yogurt mixture in, cover gently with a clean, smooth tea towel (not terry cloth or microfiber). 
     

  • Set aside in the fridge to drain for 24-48 hours depending on your desired thickness. (side note: another thing I’ve learned during quarantine is that you can reserve the whey that drains out of your yogurt and use it in smoothies or even to marinate meat!)
     

  • When it’s done, pick up the edges of the coffee filter and ease the labneh out onto a platter using a spoon. Sprinkle with za’atar and serve with wedges of pita. Or just eat straight from the coffee filter with a spoon. Not that I’ve ever done that.