Labneh is a thick, creamy Middle Eastern yogurt dip, traditionally topped with a pool of olive oil and heavy sprinkle of za’atar– a green herbal mixture that features some combination of thyme, hyssop, oregano and/or marjoram with sesame seed and salt. (Some versions also contain sumac.) Alongside better-known mezze staples like hummus and babaganoush, labneh makes a delicious topping for pita bread or–in our case– gluten-free alternatives.
Labneh is hard to find in stores, even here in the New York area. So when my mother-in-law showed up here with a huge vat of it–that she made herself (!!)– I naturally started plying her for the recipe. As it turns out, making homemade Labneh is so ridiculously easy that she didn’t even have a recipe.
Goat's Milk Labneh Dip
- Line a sieve or fine strainer with cheesecloth, a thin tea towel or two layers of paper towels.
- Place it over a large pot.
- Dump a 32 oz container of plain, whole milk goat's milk yogurt* in it (you can use Cow's milk or Lactose-free cow's milk yogurt as well)
- Leave it out at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Remove and discard the liquid from the pot. Refrigerate the strained yogurt until it is cold again.
- To serve: Spread onto a serving plate. Top with a pool of high-quality olive oil (fancy ones are great here, as you will really taste the nuanced flavors… a nice, green grassy one will be LOVELY). Sprinkle generously with Za’atar, which you will need to buy at a specialty shop or online. You can find it in supermarkets with a large selection of imported food products from Israel or the Middle East, at ethnic specialty markets like Kalustyan’s in New York City, or online. This dish makes a great appetizer, or a fabulous, savory breakfast spread.
I made mine with plain goat's milk yogurt, which is lower lactose than cow's milk yogurt... and lower still after straining even more liquid from it; after draining for two hours, about 1/3 cup of liquid had seeped through the paper towels into my pot. I think goat's milk yogurt gives a hint of the signature, musky twang of goat cheese that I love. You can use lactose-free cow's milk yogurt (Green Valley Organics) if you need to be sure your Labneh is fully lactose-free.