Labaneh, Lebni it’s all Greek to me


One of my favorite snack indulgences is Yummy's Choice Labaneh. As I hate to beholden to buying snack foods so I embarked on trying to make my own.

Labaneh, not to be confused with keffir cheese or Greek sour cream is a wonderful "cheese" made from strained yogurt that has many iterations from the Eastern Mediterranean. In most households the plain strained yogurt is simply served with some dried mint and unfiltered olive oil as a dip for pita bread. Some add Z'hatar spice too. Sammy's takes it a few delectable steps further.

A quick web search found me scratching my head as there seemed to be quite few interpretations of what constitutes labaneh.  One of my favorite blogs, The Nourished Kitchen had thorough information as to how to make labaneh and then suggestions as to how to enjoy it in addition to  all the health benefits you get from eating it. Wikipedia provided decent background information on strained yogurt.

Recently I found Lebni from Greek Gods  which they sell as Kefir Cheese. Then I found a torn out page from Saveur magazine from a few years back featuring Lebni in their 100 issue.

I was driven to my tower of cookbooks. Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, intrepid Canadian travelers and chroniclers of international traditional foods as well as the amazing Eastern Mediterranean expert, Claudia Roden and historical food writer Anne Mendelson, offered what I needed in terms of background and recipes.

Flatbread and Flavors, a favorite book by Alford and DuGuid, and Anne Mendelson's Milk Through the Ages have the best recipes for making yogurt cheese balls that you store in olive oil. If you don't have either book and don't feel like purchasing yet another cookbook – their technique is the same as the one on the Nourished Kitchen site listed above. Claudia Roden in Arabesque calls it "cheese and yogurt dip" and includes adding feta to the yogurt -like Yummy's, but no walnuts.

Here is my version of Yummy's labaneh. I guarantee that you will enjoy this tangy, salty, herbaceous "yogurt cheese". I served it with some homemade pita crisps (Labaneh is pictured in the center) and even placed some in some nastursum flowers.

The other nibbles are fresh figs with caramelized walnuts and Pt. Reyes blue cheese, dates with parmesean cheese and Marcona Almonds and "fried" chick peas (recipe posting soon). To me the closest thing I can relate this "cheese" recipe to is French Boursin. I could see leftovers being used in Kimberly's Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwich on Meatless Mondays.

Barr's Lebaneh

1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 feta cheese
1/4 cup Greek Gods Lebani (Keffir Cheese)
1 clove garlic
EVVO, a nice fruity variety
1 Tbsp. each Chives, mint, parsley -chopped fine

You can make this by hand which makes for a wonderful consistency, but I prefer to use my food processor. The recipe also easily doubles for a crowd.

Place the walnuts into the food processor and pulse until they are fine and crumbly. Remove about 1 Tbsp.

Add the feta and Greek God's keffir cheese and the clove of garlic. Turn machine on and puree with the machine running add about 1/8 cup olive oil.

Remove from the food processor and place into a bowl. Stir in the finely chopped herbs. Drizzle on some more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the remaining walnuts and serve.

One Response to Labaneh, Lebni it’s all Greek to me

  1. Tracey January 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Made this dip cuz I finally found Labneh and it was absolutely delicious…

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