When I have the urge to travel it’s often motivated by a particular food I’m craving. For example, I would absolutely get on a plane to South America for granadilla. Or to Italy for fresh mozzarella. Or to Cincinnati for Graeter’s ice cream. Or to Israel for labneh.
While you can get frozen granadilla and fresh mozzarella and Graeter’s almost everywhere in the U.S., I’ve been hard pressed to find good labneh on this side of the Atlantic.
Labneh is is a Middle Eastern cheese made from yogurt. It’s commonly rolled into balls, served with extra virgin olive oil, or used as condiment with cucumbers, tomatoes, and pretty much any other vegetable found in the shuk. Both a breakfast staple and an anytime snack, labneh is creamy, tangy, and versatile. Labneh is also full of health-boosters. Since it gets strained, labneh has less sugar and carbhoydrates than other dairy products, while still retaining a significant amount of protein. Because it is made from yogurt, labneh is full of probiotics. It also happens to be the easiest cheese to make yourself.
Many cheeses require heat, thermometers, rennet, or other accessories. Labneh needs only 2.5 ingredients: plain yogurt, salt, and cheesecloth. I say 2.5 because the salt is somewhat optional. I’ve made labneh just by dumping yogurt into cheesecloth and hanging it up in my fridge.
Now that I have my own stash of labneh in the fridge, I have to come up with a new excuse to travel.
Do you have a food you’d hop on a plane for?
3 cups yogurt
1 teaspoon sea salt
In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and salt.
Gently pour the mixture into two-three layers of cheesecloth. Collect the ends of the cheesecloth and tie up the “package,” hanging it in your fridge over a bowl.
Serve with a drizzle of great olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh herbs or za’atar.
Leave the pouch hanging in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Store the final product in an airtight container. You can save the whey (the liquid left in the bowl) for future projects.