Labneh Love (Daring Cooks March '13: Let's Get Cheesy)

I know that Jerusalem has been getting all the praise on the Middle-Eastern cooking front and it totally deserves it. It is a gorgeous book filled with amazing recipes. I (heart) it to pieces. However, another equally amazing book was released in October of last year: Malouf: New Middle Eastern Food by Australian chef and cookbook author, Greg Malouf.

Now, as inspired as I was by this book (gorgeous photography) and as many times as I have flipped through it, I am dismayed to admit that I hadn't cooked anything out of it yet. Sometimes, I disappoint me...

When I saw that Sawsan had selected cheese as this month's Daring Cook's challenge, I immediately though about doing something with labneh - yogurt cheese. I remembered that New Middle Eastern Food had several labneh variations and thought it would be fun to play around with that. 
Since I was making a batch of lentil soup and a caper-yogurt bread, I decided to make one batch of harissa labneh and a second batch of parsley labneh to serve along with it. Note to self: the water that a half-pound of dried chili peppers has been soaking in is brutal on any open cuts on your skin - AVOID!

It turns out that those two containers of labneh ended up being multi-functional:

Night one: the harissa labneh was spread on the yogurt-caper bread (adapted from an olive bread recipe in NMEF), while the parsley labneh was swirled into lentil soup

Night two: the harissa labneh was used as a marinade for chicken breast, which were then breaded in panko and baked (most tender chicken I have ever made)

Night three: the rest of the parsley yogurt was used to marinade tuna steaks, which were then grilled.

Spoons of it may have disappeared into other applications between nights one and three... 

Labneh (Yogurt Cheese)
Adapted from Malouf: New Middle Eastern Food

2 pounds Greek yogurt (preferably made with whole milk)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir the yogurt and salt together. Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and place over a bowl large enough to hold the sieve. Scoop the yogurt into the cheesecloth & tie up the ends of the cloth. Place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours - or up to 72 hours (the longer you leave it in, the thicker it will be).

To make parsley labneh, add one pound of strained yogurt (labneh), 1 cup of parsley and 1/2 cup of fresh, plain yogurt to the work bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Either serve immediately or strain in a cheesecloth lined sieve for 24 hours for a thicker product. (The thinner version makes a great dip or marinade; the thicker version is great slathered on crackers or bread.)

For harissa labneh, add one pound of strained yogurt, 2-4 tablespoons of harissa (it depends on how hot you like it) and 1/2 cup of fresh, plain yogurt. Follow processing instructions for parsley labneh.

This post participates in The Daring Cooks. Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!


  1. Middle-Eastern food is one area of cooking I have not delved into, but you make it look intriguing. I'm glad you found so many using for your labneh!

  2. That looks fantastic and as do-able as the coeur à la crème turned out to be. Middle Eastern food is getting its (deserved) time in the spotlight now. There's a new Middle Eastern restaurant nearby that I'm looking forward to trying and I'm holding out for a birthday copy of Jerusalem (fingers crossed). Malouf's book wasn't on my radar, but I'm going to check it out, now. One more cookbook added to the list...

  3. I love both labneh creations Cher and all of the uses you put them to :)
    Thank you for taking part in this month's challenge

  4. I made harissa and am looking for ways to use, since all I do is marinate chicken with it. My hands were a mess for one whole day after seeding the peppers, they burned so bad! And making my own cheese is just great. I like this post Cher, it´s so interesting!

    1. Paula, Wear the disposable, tight, and very inexpensive "nitrile gloves". (Think Medical Exam Gloves. On the other hand, don't think about that.) Anyway, cheap, easy to use, and great for the kitchen.

  5. Being half Lebanese, I grew up on Labneh. My grandmother always had a container of it in her fridge. It was what we snacked on, with pita bread. It’s still a favorite in our family! We always made it just plain. Love the flavors you went with, Cher…they both sound wonderful! I also love your bread…gorgeous! A delicious feast!

  6. I admire you for being so willing to always go out there on that Limb on try something new. I've done one "Plenty" recipe but have read them all and have them bookmarked. "Jerusalem" - haven't cracked the cover but, like Teresa, I also like that Middle Eastern cooking and spices and flavoring are on display right now. As soon as I get settled down - and, the move is only two weeks away - I hope to do more cuisine exploration. I've hear of Malouf and appreciate your rec.

  7. Beautiful photos - and a lovely sounding book as your inspiration! Great challenge!


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