If I get inside a Middle Eastern grocery store, you can be sure that I will excitedly gravitate to the dairy case in a mad search for labeneh. I find the creamy, cultured tanginess irresistible. During a short trip to Israel, I was served lebeneh in many variations and I loved them all. In fact, I deeply appreciate the whole ritual of Middle Eastern food culture in which mezze dishes such as labeneh play a starring role. The dipping and dabbing, tearing and breaking of flat breads, the variety of textures and flavors, the fruity pools of olive oil, fresh chopped salads, and Oh my! the lemony labeneh! I absolutely can not claim authenticity for my version, but I do think the flavor is rather stunning. The nutritional aspect is a no-brainer, it’s like eating yogurt, actually it is yogurt, easily digested, carrying the minerals from grass-fed cows, and full of wonderful fats.
When planning to make this, you need at least a few hours ahead of time for straining.
1 quart whole-milk yogurt
1/2 fresh lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
Olive oil for drizzling
1. Pour yogurt into cloth-or-paper towel-lined strainer set over a large bowl. Cover and allow to strain for at least 6 hours. (I like just leaving it overnight.)
2. Transfer the now stiff and cheese-like yogurt to another bowl. (Don’t discard the whey. You can use it to soak your grains!) Juice the lemon right into the bowl and add the salt. Whisk until creamy. If you find the yogurt is too thick, add a tablespoon or so of whey to thin the mixture.
3. Taste for additional salt and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne or paprika as desired. Serve with bread for dipping.
Looks luscious, especially in the Israeli bowl;)
Looks so yummmm, I have strained my yogurt before but this lemony pepper dippy stuff looks like a thing to try. I remember reading your emails about your trip to the Middle East.you made it sound so intriguing and lovely. I so enjoyed them and realized that you were not only a great artist but a lovely writer.
Thanks Beth, you are too kind! This stuff IS addictive, especially with pita bread or fresh veg. to dip with…