Labneh, oh, labneh! You are a food fit for all seasons and for princes and paupers alike!
I adore labneh so much I really ought to write a poem honoring that dairy yogurt delight. But since I gave up my poetry writing when I gave up my poetry blog back in 2006, I'll just write about how passionately my family and I feel about this food, and share our favorite way to eat it.
Labneh is an extra strained Lebanese yogurt 'cheese.' Think Greek yogurt-- twice strained. It's typically eaten as a pita bread dip, or in a sandwich. But the beauty of labneh is that it's appropriate for breakfast, lunch, a light dinner, or snack! I don't know of any other food that's as versatile in that way. When hungry, a labneh sandwich will surely fill the appetite any time of the day or night!
At home, we mostly eat labneh in a sandwich. Our favorite brand which is available at most middle eastern grocers as well as Whole Foods, is Victor's. In it's simplest form, we spread this white cream on a layer of pita bread with salt, olive oil, and lots of Palestinian za'atar (an herb mix of dried thyme, summac, salt, and sesame seeds), roll it up and eat it. The combination of labneh and zataar alone is a divine marriage. If you want to make a fancier sandwich, you can use a favorite crusty bread and add the traditional veggies of cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh mint, etc.
When I worked very briefly at a friend's cafe during the time when I was single, retired from teaching, and a free-spirited poetry writer, my favorite sandwich to make for customers was the labneh sandwich. From this experience, and from the fact that I've always found joy in creating interesting and delicious sandwiches, was born my own signature labneh sandwich which I'm sharing below.
First, toast two 5x7 pieces of Afghan bread and let them cool.
Whisk together two table spoons of labneh, two teaspoons of olive oil, and a hefty pinch of salt.
Spread the labneh mix onto each slice of bread and sprinkle both generously with zataar and dot with pitted green olives.
Stack one bread piece with tomato slices, cucumber slices, and a handful of arugula (or a spring-mix). Sprinkle with salt.
Put both pieces of bread together to complete the sandwich.
And THIS, my friends, would be my choice of a sandwich if I were stranded on a desert island!