Why Labneh Should Be Just as Popular as Yogurt

published May 8, 2015
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(Image credit: Ellen Silverman)

If you’ve ever bought a tub of labneh – that ultra-strained, lightly salty, Middle Eastern yogurt “cheese” – or made it yourself through a process of straining yogurt via suspension or compression, you may have noticed one particular thing: it lasts a really, really long time without getting moldy or otherwise spoiling. It can last for weeks, and still taste as good as when freshly bought or made.

(Image credit: Matters of the Belly)

This shouldn’t surprise us, right? As a fermented food, yogurt itself is prized for its longevity, and when we both salt it and release the vast majority of its liquid whey through straining, we’re furthering its resistance to spoilage even more.

4 Ways to Use Labneh in Your Cooking

So the question becomes, how should we use it? Here are a few ideas:

1. Sweep it.

Warm some flatbreads, sprinkle your labneh with za’atar, drizzle it with olive oil, and get sweeping. Eat it for a snack, for lunch, or for breakfast, which is how labneh is often enjoyed in parts of the Middle East.

2. Mound it.

I like dropping labneh into little pools in places where you might not expect it, like in frittatas or brownies. Because it’s so thick, it creates beautiful creamy puddles that don’t dissolve under gentle heat.

3. Shmear it.

That’s right: Take inspiration from your favorite bagel toppings and flavor labneh with everything from onions and chives to smoked salmon and capers to garlic and herbs.

4. Top it.

I love topping rich, creamy labneh with sautéed, roasted, or even grilled vegetables. Scoop on bread slices for a pretty crostini or tuck it into pita for an on-the-go sandwich. Add some herbs or delicate greens for garnish, if you’re feeling fancy.

Try a Recipe for Labneh

Like yogurt, labneh is a blank canvas ready to take on a slew of contrasting flavors and textures. Get creative!

Next Up: A Global Yogurt Culture: What I Learned from Other Traditions.

(Image credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

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