28 May 2009

Labane 1

It begins with yogurt. And becomes very yummy.

When I made my first batch of yogurt I was so overwhelmed by the amount of yogurt I had on my hands that I ended up using over half of it to try making labane. Labane is basically yogurt that has had a lot of the excess liquid drained off so that it is the texture of sour cream. I strained my yogurt by dumping it in a cloth-lined colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid. I had an old, clean rice bag that I used, but any piece of clean cotton cloth will work.

After about 24 hours, the yogurt looked like this: labane!

Amazing how much liquid drains off! Probably more with
homemade yogurt which is runnier than the store-bought stuff.

I added salt to taste and a few glugs of olive oil . . .

With homemade pita, YUM!

To serve the labane (or "labna" or "labaneh") I spread it in a pretty bowl, drizzled more olive oil on top--use virgin oil for the best flavor!--and sprinkled it with za'atar. Za'atar is an herb mix popular in Israel and other Middle-Eastern countries. It usually contains hyssop (an oregano relative), toasted sesame seeds, and salt.

Labane really is a great blank palate for any fresh or dried herbs that you like. Get as creative as you want with garlic, peppers, onions, ranch mix, etc. and use as a spread on sandwiches or a dip for crackers.

Taste-Tester(s) Say(s): "I could eat this all day!"

Cook's Word: Too easy and delicious not to try. Some instructions call for putting salt and olive oil in the yogurt before straining. I did the salt once, but still had to add it to taste at the end of the process. And, I know I said it before, but use virgin olive oil! It makes a huge difference in the taste when drizzled on top for serving.

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