Pickled Cheese

Doesn’t matter what you call it – “marinated yoghurt cheese balls”, anybody? It sounds weird, but is just sublime.

On toast. With olives and a Pitta Bread (fresh is best). With hummus, baba ghanouj or mutabbal, and a simple salad. And the left-over oil can be used in all sorts of dishes.

And in a fine, be-ribboned jar – a Christmas gift.


  • 1 quantity Labneh, allowed to drain for 2 or even 3 days; the important bit is that the yoghurt has to have drained sufficiently to allow you to roll into small balls.
  • Extra virgin olive oil (the best you can afford).
  • Salt
  • Fresh or dried herbs or spices.


  • Smear a little of the olive oil on your hands. Now take small spoonfuls of the labneh and roll into balls; I make them a bit smaller than walnuts.
  • Leave them on a plate in the fridge for several hours to dry out and firm even more.
  • Place into a sterilised, dry glass jar, add a pinch of salt, your chosen flavourings, and cover with olive oil.
  • Seal the jar, and allow to marinade for at least a couple of days.
  • It can be stored for a couple of months if kept in the fridge.
  • The flavourings – whatever you like! Some ideas
    • Several sprigs of one or more fresh herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, coriander, come to mind;
    • garlic cloves (you can put several in);
    • fresh ground black pepper;
    • a fresh chilli or two;
    • mixtures that add vibrant colour as well as flavour – how about a handful of chopped coriander or basil, some red chilli flakes, smoked paprika, a bay leaf, and some ground black pepper;
    • … you get the idea!
  • And when the labneh balls are all eaten, you can use the oil as a dip, in pasta, over olives, on starters like hummus, spread on slices of baguette and toasted in the oven, for garlic bread, whatever. The gift that carries on giving! Just make sure you keep some for yourself.

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