I hope it's not true because this summer, I've eaten a lot of labne and I'd like to continue eating a lot of labne. It started because when I was fresh off the plane from Africa, I wanted to make something a bit time consuming, something you wouldn't make while traveling in a foreign country. It was too hot for baking and jam making leaves me and the kitchen sticky, so I decided to make labne. Turns out, making drained yoghurt is an ideal summer activity. You get to stick your head in the fridge every now and again, and it goes great with summery things like stone fruits, eggplant and salads. Also, as it's yoghurt to the power of a thousand, it's wonderfully thick, tangy and great with sweet things like caramelised onions and roasted tomatoes. For example.......
Labne for breakfast - I love labne on toast with roasted tomatoes or sauted spinach.
Fried eggplant with labne - This is really easy to make and so creamily tasty. Just fry one diced eggplant in oil, then stir it around 50g of labne. Season and add some lemon juice if you like. For a good early autumn dinner spread, serve it with some grilled lamb fillets and tabbouleh. Makes enough for a small side dish for two.
Pasta with caramelised onions and labne(Adapted from a Diane Kochilas recipe) - Finally, my favourite, but probably ugliest(not helped by my shaky, hungry hands - sorry bout the blur), dish that I made with labne this week. This is a good one to make with the final few balls, as you can use up the marinating oil to gently fry the onions, giving them a wonderful fennel seed, chilli and rosemary flavour. The sweet onions and the tangy labne are ace together. Quite rich, I recommend you serve it with some bitter green leaves. I caramelised two onions, stirred in 100g of labne, half a packet of cooked pasta, a little of the pasta cooking water, pecorino and chilli flakes. Enough for two people.
How to make marinated labne
My favourite way to eat labne is in marinated ball form, so I've given instructions for rolling it up below. Of course, you can skip this and just it eat plain and tangy. Adapted from a Stephanie Alexander recipe. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
600ml plain yoghurt (see notes below)
1 tsp salt
Enough olive oil to cover the balls, (will depend on your container)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves removed, chopped
Mix the salt and yoghurt together in a bowl. Line a strainer with muslin cloth or a clean Chux and pour the salty yoghurt in. Place over a bowl to catch the whey and then leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours, but preferably two days. Check every now and again and drain off the whey.
Roll the mixture into small balls and place in a shallow container. Sprinkle over the fennel seeds, chilli and rosemary and leave overnight to let the flavours develop.
Here's more of what I learnt about labne:
- I've had the best results when using a mix of yoghurts, both sheep and cow milk but I really think the most important thing is that you use good quality yoghurt. An average yoghurt makes passable labne but ritzy, biodynamic or organic yoghurt makes something you'll be stoked with.
- Most recipes say to hang the yoghurt for at least two days, but I found that when making balls, it's best to hang it for even longer. The best balls I made, the yoghurt had hung for five whole days!
- You will probably use what seems like a sickening amount of olive oil to cover. But don't worry! You can reuse it. I've found that, when the balls are done, if you strain off the cheesey bits, you can use it as you would any other type of oil.
- They will keep for two weeks, as long as they are fully submerged in the oil.