I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast everyday, for about 5 years, until I get bored of it (clearly I don’t get bored very easily!) While I haven’t totally given up on my Double Coconut Granola with yogurt and fruit, I am having a brief, but passionate, dalliance with labneh.
Labneh, also called “yogurt cheese”, originated in The Middle-East thousands of years ago. It continues to be a daily staple there, showing up for breakfast drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of za’atar to dip your pita into, as a spread for sandwiches at lunch and in mezze platters at cocktail hour. It is made by straining the whey off yogurt, past the point of even Greek yogurt. Thick and tangy, it is extremely smooth, delicious and very versatile.
If you have a Middle-Eastern market near you, they often sell it. In Ottawa they make excellent labneh at Damas Supermarket. If you can’t find it, you can make it easily at home. Just mix a bit of salt and fresh lemon juice into plain yogurt. Place it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth, set over a large bowl, to catch the whey. Put it into the fridge to 24-48 hours. If you are planning to use it as a dip, 24 hours will be sufficient. If you want to use it as a spread, 48 hours will give you a thicker product. I have tried straining Greek yogurt as well as regular yogurt, and I prefer the final texture of plain regular yogurt. Just use full fat yogurt. It will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
I decided to pair my morning labneh with strawberries, toasted hazelnuts andf a drizzle of honey. Winter strawberries need a bit of help. I sliced them in half, mixed them with a spoonful of sugar and roasted them for 30 minutes. Leftover roasted berries will keep in the fridge for a week. Toast up your bread of choice. Something dense, and seedy to hold up to the weight of the labneh would be a good idea. Finish with a drizzle of your favourite honey and get ready to face the day.