Pretty as a picture, a 2-minute wonder food.
Anyone who follows Shared Kitchen has likely seen my coverage of labna. I love it. I love it because although it gives you a creamy mouthfeel, it is clean-tasting, it’s so versatile, it’s easy to make, it is good for you, and it is inexpensive. And if used in place of mayonnaise or dairy products, it cuts calories.
Forget cream cheese, sour cream or fiddly dips, just opt for labna over summer and you will discover why it is such a great asset to have on hand. In 2 minutes flat you can be serving something elegant, novel, homemade and delicious. All you need do is to remember to drain yoghurt a day, or two or three, before you want to serve labna – this all depends on how thick you want the finished labna to be because it thickens as it drains.
You can serve it as I have here, with a generous sprinkle of hazelnut dukkah, pomegranate seeds and edible flowers. Simple, festive, pretty, and delicious. Serve with bagel toasts or your favourite bread or crackers. But by all means, up the ante and serve labna with smoked salmon, or hot-smoked salmon, and slivers of preserved lemon, with thinly sliced pumpernickel bread, or dark rye bread; use as a ‘spread’ under barbecued or roasted peppers, zucchini or eggplant on grilled garlic-rubbed bread; serve with fabulous sun-ripened tomatoes, basil, a local extra virgin olive oil and crusty bread; and here’s a scrumptious idea – a boned leg of lamb roasted to medium-rare’ish with fried or barbecued slices of eggplant and a bowl of dukkah-sprinkled labna, all drizzled with pomegranate syrup and finished with pomegranate seeds. Hell yeah!
You can use it in place of mayonnaise in a sandwich (cuts richness and calories, and adds a nice zing). And you can mix whatever you like through the labna: crushed garlic, chopped herbs, roasted nuts, seeds, or pesto, smoked salmon, smoked chicken, walnuts and tarragon a la waldorf … anything, actually. Obviously start with good yoghurt. Choose a brand without gelatine (most so-called ‘Greek’ yoghurts include gelatine), then drain away and finish however it pleases you.
If you drain it for 3 days, you can scoop it up with a teaspoon, shape it into a ball or oval shape and drop it into chopped nuts, herbs or dukkah. Serve these with bread, or make them part of a platter with curls of prosciutto or antipasto items.
Oh, and did I mention sweet stuff? Sure. Serve with cherries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines – make a big caboodle of a platter with labna in the middle, arrange fruit around the outside and drizzle with maple syrup or warm chocolate sauce, strew with freeze-dried raspberry powder, and go to town with mini marshmallows and sprinkly stuff if you can’t help yourself. Awesome.