Herbed Yogurt Cheese (Labneh)

We’ve pretty much got ourselves all settled in to the Circle B Kitchen’s West coast digs.  The rain has let up for a couple of days and we’ve had sunshine, we’ve had beach walks and we’ve had yogurt cheese. 

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this sooner, as the Circle B fridge is never without a container of yogurt cheese at the ready.  It’s about the easiest thing ever to make, and you wouldn’t believe how many things you can do with it.  The most obvious, and our favorite application, is this herb dip that is superb with your favorite crackers, tortilla chips, crostini, pita chips or veggies.  Most nights of the week we have a little bowl of this dip set out with crackers to munch on with a glass of wine. 

I usually start with my homemade yogurt, but lacking the time to make that, this time I used store-bought low fat.  Any good quality yogurt will do.  For years I used cheesecloth to drain the yogurt until I came across this very nifty little yogurt strainer which pretty much does all the work for me.  I just place as much yogurt as will fit in the strainer, put on the lid and stick it in the fridge for 24 hours.  The cheese is then ready to be used however your heart desires.  Depending on the yogurt used, the cheese will have varying levels of tartness which is easily balanced with kosher salt.

For each batch of yogurt cheese I use anywhere between 1 and 2 tsp of kosher salt.  The trick I have learned is that it takes a few minutes for the salt to melt into the cheese, so wait about 10 minutes or so after adding the salt to taste and see if you need more.  After you’ve made this a few times you really get to know how much salt you’ll need.  Without doing another thing to it, this cheese is delicious just as is.  But I love adding herbs…my favorites are chives, parsley and mint. 

I keep a container of lightly salted yogurt cheese in the fridge to use in cooking, and another of herbed cheese for dipping.  It’s been a staple in this kitchen for years and years and I’m pretty sure you’ll get hooked too.

Herbed Yogurt Cheese

For a printable recipe, click here

1 2-lb container of good-quality, plain yogurt (lowfat or full fat)

1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1 tablespoon minced chives

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, mint and thyme

Your favorite crackers, crostini, chips, veggies or pita chips for dipping

Place the yogurt in a double layer of cheese cloth, tie the ends together and hang over a bowl to drain for about 24 hours.  Alternately, using a yogurt drainer... fill the strainer with yogurt, snap on the lid and leave in the fridge to drain for 24 hours.Scoop the yogurt cheese into a bowl and add 1 tsp kosher salt.  Stir and let sit about 10 minutes.  Taste, and if needed, add more salt until the tartness of the yogurt is softened by the salt.  Stir in the chives and herbs.  Cover and let sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.