All About Labneh Cheese | culture: the word on cheese
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All About Labneh Cheese

Not quite yogurt, not quite cheese, labneh is one deliciously unique dairy product. A staple of Middle Eastern cuisine, labneh (also spelled labaneh, lebnah, labne, or labni) is a simple spread made by straining regular whole-milk yogurt through cheesecloth. So how is it different from Greek yogurt (which is also strained regular yogurt)? As it turns out, not much — labneh is simply strained longer, resulting in an ultra-thick texture similar to many fresh cheeses.

Labneh is one of the easiest “cheeses” to make at home — which is good news for those who aren’t near specialty markets. All you need is some cheesecloth or a strainer, full-fat yogurt, salt, and some time. Try this tutorial from 101 Cookbooks, which also offers some ideas for serving your creation — from toast to party snacks to “cream cheese” frosting(!). David Lebovitz has a labneh recipe as well, and he recommends folding some crisp, chopped vegetables (like radishes and scallions) into the finished product. With football season approaching and summer not quite gone, this homemade dip sounds like the perfect compromise for game day. 

Speaking of game day, creamy labneh is perfectly home atop nachos as well. Try our Pappadum with Lebaneh and Coriander Chutney for a knockout snack. Pappadum are thin, round Indian snack flatbreads made from lentil flour, and are either baked or fried. We recommend making your own labneh for this recipe, and marinating in olive oil and herbs prior to assembling the nachos. Alternatively, use our recipe simply for the marinated labneh — slathering it on warm pita is highly encouraged. 

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Photo by Food52

Rebecca Haley-Park

Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's former editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she holds a BFA in creative writing from University of Maine at Farmington.