There are some foods that are so simple, and yet so sophisticated. Take a poached egg, for example. One pot of boiling water, one egg, perhaps a dash of vinegar, and three minutes later you have a meal, often a good looking one too. We all know that tried-and-true technique of putting an egg on leftovers. Well, if you put a poached egg on something, anything (from a piece of toast to some leftover broccoli), you have yourself a meal that wouldn't look out of place at a nice bistro. That's just how sophisticated poached eggs are.
Labneh is another example. A "yogurt" cheese, it is even easier than poaching an egg, and yet also manages to be quite sophisticated. It is the kind of thing that is good to have around in your fridge when the temperatures are high, and your energy is low.
This summer, I've been slathering labneh on toast, and then dressing it up either sweet (dried rose petals, black sesame seeds, flaky salt, and honey, inspired by Sarah Britton's My New Roots cookbook) or savory (herbs de provence, chili, smoked salt). I've also been eating it on cucumbers with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of chili and some torn basil leaves. And when my energy has been lowest (or my body temperatures has the hottest), I've just dipped chunks of carrot straight into the labneh, all while feeling smug for having something homemade to eat that did not involve any effort.
Making labneh has nothing to do with cooking, and everything to do with patience. Stir some salt into yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt, and then leave it to drain for 24 hours. That's it.
When you make labneh, you end up with whey (the strained liquid). Use it to make a smoothie, or add it to your baking.
450 grams full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
Place a strainer over a bowl. Line the strainer with a couple layers of cheese cloth. Pour in the yogurt, add the salt, and give it a stir. Gather the ends of the cheese cloth and bundle them together with an elastic band or butcher's twine.
Place in the refrigerator and leave for 24 hours.
Remove the labneh from the cheese cloth, place in a dish, and eat. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a good four days.
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I'll be spending the rest of August jumping in lakes, drinking white wine, and staying up late with books. I hope you'll be doing the same. I'll see you in September for tales of plums, figs and road trips.