Try your hand at turning yoghurt into a luxurious Middle-eastern cheese. It may seem a bit technical but it isn't really, providing you get started a day ahead. Serve the labneh with minimum graces: spoon inside chunks of good crusty bread and top with tomato.
450g goat’s yoghurt
450g natural yoghurt
20 black olives, pitted
1½ tbsp roughly chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 small garlic clove, crushed
100ml olive oil
20g pistachios, lightly toasted
20g pine nuts, lightly toasted
½ tsp flaked chilli
3 ripe tomatoes
½ a small red onion, thinly sliced
Coarse sea salt
- Line a deep bowl with a cheesecloth or muslin. Stir the two yoghurts together with ½ a teaspoon of salt and pour into the cloth. Bring the edges together, form a tight bundle and tie firmly with a string. Hang the bundle over a bowl or from your tap over the kitchen sink. Leave the yoghurt to drain for 24-36 hours. After this time much of the liquid should have been lost and the yoghurt will turn thick and quite dry; the centre may still be creamy.
- Remove the labneh from the cloth and onto a serving dish or platter. Use the back of a spoon to spread it over the plate creating a loose wavy pattern, about 2 centimetres thick.
- Next, dice the olives or chop roughly. Place them in a bowl and add the oregano, parsley, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil, reserving 2 tablespoons of oil for the tomatoes. Use a pestle and mortar to crush the nuts unevenly, leaving some just broken and others finely crushed; add to the olive mix and stir.
- Spoon the olive mix over the labneh clearing about 2 centimetres away from the edge (you don’t need to use the whole quantity if you want your labneh a bit milder). Sprinkle with chilli. Finally, cut the tomatoes into thick wedges and mix with the onion. Arrange on a side plate next to the labneh, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the reserved olive oil. Serve the labneh and tomatoes with torn out chunks of bread.