Drained of much of its water content, yogurt becomes a thick, creamy product known in the Middle East as labna or labne. Drained yogurt is like a moist, fresh, tangy cheese, and it makes a great spread or dip. In Turkey and in the Middle East, a number of dips and salad dressings are based on drained yogurt combined with pureed garlic and chopped fresh herbs. Drained yogurt can be mixed with chopped cucumbers for salads or with chopped dried apricots for a sweet and tangy dip.
- 2 cups low-fat yogurt
Line a strainer with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the strainer, and refrigerate for at least two hours (preferably four hours or longer). Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate again. Serve as a spread, dip, or topping for rice, or use as the base for a salad dressing.
Variations: Mix in any of the following:
- 1 to 2 plump garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed, and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar and pestle
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh peppermint or dill (or other fresh herbs of your choice)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 teaspoon or more ground toasted cumin seeds, curry powder or other spices
Yield: 1 cup
Advance preparation: Drained yogurt will last as long as the regular kind, so check the sell-by date on the container. The yogurt will continue to give up water, which you should simply pour away.