Marinated Yoghurt Cheese Balls(Labneh)...a great Appetizer. I really enjoyed making this cheese as it wasn't hard to make at all. It did take some patience on my part. I don't know why, but I tend to get excited when I make homemade cheese or yoghurt.... or kefir for that matter. I guess I feel the results are worth it. This recipe, however, uses store-bought yoghurt... though I am sure you can make your own yoghurt. It would take a bit more time as it would involve a 2 step process...making the yoghurt and then making the cheese. This time around, I took the easy way out and used the ready-made yoghurt. I loved using the thicker Greek-style yoghurt...it has less whey and I think you get more cheese out of it. It was really simple to make and yet the outcome was so elegant and tasty. What I like about making my own marinated cheese is that I can easily vary the herbs and seasonings. I loved this delicious yoghurt cheese. The texture is similar to chevre... it has this tangy sort of flavor. My husband actually thought it was goat cheese:)... We loved spreading the cheese on toasted bread and drizzling some of the seasoned oil. It really was delicious. And, to think that I made it...that was even more rewarding!
Strained yoghurt cheese or Labneh is very popular in the Middle-Eastern cuisine. It is often eaten for breakfast with olive oil, bread, olives and other cheeses...The olive oil really enhances the flavor of the cheese....so, I always use some good extra-virgin olive oil. The cheese can easily be a part of a mezze platter or even used as a sandwich spread. Some people prefer to let the strained yoghurt dry out a bit before seasoning it with various herbs and storing it in olive oil....
This marinated cheese can be a great homemade hostess gift. It's also a great appetizer that you can bring to your next gathering....accompanied by various, crackers, crostini, pita wedges, etc. Do feel free to adjust herbs to your preference. Hope you enjoy...
You will need:
16-20 oz thick Greek-style yoghurt ( I used Fage)
kosher salt to taste(I used a pinch...and added some to the oil)
Seasonings to taste: can use any or a combination of the following fresh or dried
salt(if needed...since I didn't use too much in the cheese, I added some to the oil)*
*what I used this time around
Extra-virgin olive oil
Place yoghurt in a bowl with salt and stir to combine. Use a muslin cloth or coffee filters. Place yoghurt in center. If using coffee filters, divide yoghurt in several filters then gather up muslin/filter sides and tie with string/rubber band.
You can suspend the ball over a bowl by tying the string to a wooden spoon or if using coffee filters, slip a kebob skewer through the rubber band and suspend on top of a large bowl, allowing the ball to hang down. Leave to drain in the fridge for 3 days. Use the whey that has drained out in other dishes....I used some of the whey when I made some hummus, or in mashed potatoes. Remove the yoghurt cheese balls to a plate and form small balls of cheese (walnut or smaller size. Place on a flat plate.
You can refrigerate for 3 hours to dry out, if you like... I didn't. To a sterilized jar, add herbs/seasonings and most of the oil. Mix. Add the yoghurt balls and enough olive oil to cover.
Since most of the seasoning has the tendency to settle at the bottom , I like to "roll" the closed jar gently or turn upside down a few times to redistribute the seasonings. Leave to marinate for about 24 hours. Keep for up to 1 week or so.
Serve alongside a mezze platter with olives, roasted bell peppers, hummus, baba ganoush, etc. and some warm pita bread.
Serve as a tasty and classy appetizer with toasted bread/baguettes/crackers or with pita bread. Drizzle with some of the seasoned oil for even more flavor.
What to do with all the leftover oil?:
Use it to dress some boiled pasta dish...linguine, penne. Use it when sauteeing some shrimp or chicken...scampi style.
Use a bit of it in salad dressings. Try adding some balsamic vinegar and using it as a dip for crusty bread...yet, another appetizer.