Labneh: Greek Cheese Spread With Homemade Pita Bread
Labneh is a tangy, silky cheese spread that can be served as a dip with pita bread or smeared on a toasted bagel. The cheese can also be rolled into balls, encrusted in herbs, and preserved in olive oil. Rather than buying packaged pita bread, make some of your own to enjoy with the cashew-based labneh. Baking the bread is easier than you think!
LABNEH: GREEK CHEESE SPREAD WITH HOMEMADE PITA BREAD [VEGAN]
FOR THE LABNEH:
1teaspoonapple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoongarlic powder
Olive oil,for serving
1teaspoonza’atar (or a combination of dried herbs) for serving (see notes)
FOR THE PITA BREAD:
1cupwhole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2scupall-purpose flour
TO MAKE THE LABNEH:
Soak the cashews in the water for 12 hours.
Puree the cashews and soaking water in a high speed blender until totally smooth.
Heat up your cashew mixture in a saucepan until quite hot to the touch but not boiling or bubbling at all. Remember to stir as you don’t want the cashew concoction to scorch!
Remove from the heat and gently stir in the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. Allow to sit undisturbed for 1/2 hour.
Line a sieve with cheese cloth. Place the cloth lined sieve over a bowl to catch the liquid. Gently pour the cashew curds into the waiting sieve. Place the whole contraption into the refrigerator for the night.
The next morning you should have something that is as thick as greek yogurt. Pour out any whey that has gathered in the bottom bowl. Place a bowl on top of the curds to gently press out more liquid. The next morning you should be good to go. I like to let my labneh strain for 24 hours.
Remove your curds from the cheese cloth, place in a bowl and add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, minced garlic, mustard, and salt to taste. Whiz it with an immersion blender (or use a regular blender) until completely smooth.
You can now store it in the refrigerator or roll it into balls and the coat in finely chopped herbs. The flavors mellow after a couple of hours in the refrigerator.
TO MAKE THE PITA BREAD:
Place warm water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the yeast over. Let sit 10 minutes.
Mix in sugar, salt, olive oil and the whole wheat flour. Mix till combined.
Add the all purpose flour and stir till you have a cohesive ball. Knead that ball on your counter with scant additions of flour to keep it from sticking.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside turning once to coat with oil.
Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour. Uncover your dough and place it gently onto a lightly floured counter.
Turn your oven onto 500°F. Place pizza stone or a large sheet pan in the oven to heat up.
Cut you dough into 8 pieces. Form them into balls and roll each ball out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cover with a cloth and let rest 20 minutes.
Place half the rounds into the oven on your pizza stone or sheet pan. Allow to bake 3 minutes and then remove from oven and place immediately into a bowl lined with a towel.
Place a towel over the newly baked pita, this is important for the formation of the pocket. Bake up your second batch of pita and place in the bowl with the first batch covering immediately with the towel. Let sit 7-8 minutes.
Za'atar is a spice mix used in Middle Eastern cooking that contains oregano, thyme, sumac, and more.
Labneh can also be enjoyed spread it in a shallow dish like you would hummus. Splash some really good olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with za'atar and fresh black pepper.