Sunday 25 October 2009

Labneh with Olives and Pistachios

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I never thought I'd be making cheese at home, but when I saw Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for labneh in the Guardian Weekend a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to try it.

Actually, I guess calling labneh cheese is stretching the term a little. Labneh is made by straining yogurt until most of the whey has been removed and you're left with a spread that is similar in texture to soft cream cheese and lovely and fresh.

It was just the right thing for the mezze dinner we had at my flat last night. Seven people, great food, plenty of wine and loads of laughter. The perfect Saturday night.

The original recipe calls for oregano. I replaced it with coriander (cilantro) as I couldn't find any fresh oregano at my local grocers. It also uses lemon zest from two lemons, but mine were waxed, so I just squeezed the juice of half a lemon and added that instead.

Labneh with Olives and Pistachios (serves 4)

450gr natural yogurt
450gr goat's yogurt
coarse sea salt
20 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 1/2tbsp of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
1tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
half a lemon, juice of
1 clove of garlic, crushed
50ml olive oil
20gr pistachios, lightly toasted
20gr pine kernels, lightly toasted
1/2 tsp chili flakes
3 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 red onion, sliced thinnly

Stir both yogurts together with about half a teaspoon of salt.

Pour into a deep bowl lined with cheese cloth or muslin. Carefully bring together the corners of the cloth and tie tightly with some string.

Hang the bundle over the bowl, so that it is suspended and the whey can drain from the cloth. I tied mine to a wooden spoon which I then balanced on the rim of the bowl.

Place in the fridge for 24-36 hours.

Remove from fridge and spread the into a serving dish with the back of a spoon.

In another bowl mix the olives, coriander, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and chili flakes.

Put your toasted pine kernels and pistachios in a pestle and mortar and crush them roughly.

Add to the olives and combine.

Spoon the mix over the labneh.

On a separate plate mix the tomato wedges and onion and drizzle with some olive oil.

Simply serve the labneh and the tomatoes with some fresh bread.


Jenny said...

I really want the Ottolenghi book, every recipe I've seen from there looks yummy! A mezze night sounds like a lot of work but from the photo it was definitely worth the effort!

Unknown said...

Never heard of labneh nor have I heard of a mezze. What culture is that from? I do however love yogurt cheese and the pairing with olives and pistachios ooooooohhhh now that sounds yum.

Sylvia Waltering said...

Jenny, I don't have the book either, but tend to buy the Guardian on Saturday's and always save the recipes.

Wizzy. Mezze or meze is popular in a number of Eastern Mediterranean countries. It's similar to Spanish Tapas.

Alex said...

I've always wanted to make Labneh - straining the yoghurt and squeezing the cheese is something that I'd love to do!

Cottage Smallholder said...

Labneh is delicious - thanks for the nudge.

Oregano is very easy to grow in pots and it self seeds everywhere.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I saw that recipe, too. Looked terrific.

Good to see someone trying it out + blogging about it - looks as though yours was a great success. Well done!

Gloria Baker said...

Look delicious and tasty Sylvie!! gloria

Karine said...

Great combo of flavors in your recipe! Thanks for sharing:)

Margaret Studer said...

I've only recently started following your blog,however, I find your recipes and meals very interesting.
I was interested in the fact that you couldn't find fresh oregano. I live in California and it's plentiful here, so it was hard for me to picture.
However, at times I haven't been able to get fresh oregano or just didn't want to go to the store. I have found out you can use 1/2 the amount of dried oregano leaves to get the same result as fresh. You can even reconstitute them by soaking them in a tablespoon or so of tepid water and draining them.

Marie Rayner said...

Looks a delicious get together Sylvie. I have always wanted to make my own cheese. Perhaps one day.

Sylvie said...

Alex, it's good fun, you should try it.

Cottage Smallholder, I'm gonna get a bit of our communal garden going next spring. Can't wait to grow more herbs and some veg.

Aforkfulofspaghetti, thanks. I also like to see other people try stuff out to find out if it really works and what they think.

Thanks Gloria.

Karine, the flavours really go well. It's fresh and has depth with a little kick from the chili.

Margaret, I could have got oregano from one of the other supermarkets, but couldn't be bothered to get on my bicycle again. I was thinking about using dried, but then decided that cilantro would work nicely too and I had it on hand.

Marie, give it a go. It's fun and quite satisfying.

Marisa said...

This looks seriously amazing!