Labaneh is a wonderful strained yoghurt from the Middle East, popular as a breakfast and snack dish. It comes in a few different textures; creamy and smooth like a dip, thick and textured like a spread or hard and dry like a cheese. You can make all three varieties very easily at home and the only thing that differentiates them is the number of hours you strain the yogurt for (12 hours for the dip, 19 hours for the spread, 24 hours for the cheese).
Straining yoghurt is very easy, and as long as you have cheese cloth, you can hang it from your kitchen tap overnight letting it drain into your sink, or tie to a wooden spoon over a jug or simply in a strainer over a pan.
For my Labaneh Tartine, I make my yoghurt thick and textured which is the middle option above. I then adorn my labaneh tartine with all my favourite Palestinian treats like rich buttery organic black olives, juicy vine ripened cherry tomatoes, organic fair trade extra virgin olive oil and Za’atar (a traditional Palestinian mix of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac), made by a women’s cooperative in Jericho.
I use organic ewe’s milk yoghurt when I make this, as ewe’s milk has much less casein than cow’s milk making it a lot easier to digest and this is also how its traditionally made. If you can’t access ewe’s yoghurt, then use cow’s yoghurt, Greek style for best results. The yoghurt will half in size, so that 1ltr yoghurt will make 500g Labaneh, and 500g yoghurt will make 250g. For a few tartines and a small amount of labaneh left for the fridge, use 500g yoghurt.
I serve mine with a large handful of alfalfa sprouts which makes a great lunch.
500g organic ewe’s yoghurt (or cow’s Greek Style)
2 pinches of pink Himalayan salt, crushed
1 slice Organic rye bread
4 black olives, de-pipped
4 vine ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ tsp Za’atar
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1. add the salt into the yoghurt and mix thoroughly.
2. cross two cheese clothes over each other over a strainer placed atop a pan. Add the yoghurt to the centre, folding up each side of cloth, until the yoghurt is in a ball and secure with a rubber band, string or tight knot
3. elevate the yoghurt ball and leave hung over a bowl or jug for 18 hours (overnight)
4. remove yoghurt from the cheese cloth and spread your desired amount on the rye bread
5. arrange the olives and tomatoes how you like on top of the labaneh, sprinkle over the Za’atar, and glug over the olive oil.
6. serve with alfalfa sprouts of any green salad of your choice.