Labneh with olives, pistachios and oregano

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.

    Serves four

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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