I realize we’re inching our way into fall and today’s Roasted Red Pepper Labneh with Charred Corn has summer written all over it but I don’t care. I can still sit comfortably on my back patio, and corn is sweeter and more plentiful than ever. And even the calendar is behind me. It’s summer until the 22nd and if current temperatures persist, I’m not even willing to accept that date as summer’s end. I’m not going to go on the ever-trendy tirade against pumpkin spice because I like pumpkin spice and I’m not against anything people find joy in. But I would like to live in this summery moment a little longer. So let’s temporarily banish thoughts of Halloween and dig into this labneh.
If you’ve spent any amount of time on this blog chances are you’ve come across a labneh recipe. I adore labneh. If I spy it on a menu, I order it without hesitation, which is funny because it goes against my golden rule when ordering in a restaurant. I always tend to order things that I do not regularly make myself. Things that are fussy or cumbersome or too involved to make more than once in a blue moon. But labneh isn’t any of those things. It’s incredibly easy to pull off at home and in its least adorned form, it requires only two ingredients. But when you really love something it’s hard to deny yourself.
So what is labneh? Labneh is a dip and/or spread made from strained yogurt widely enjoyed throughout the Levant, Egypt, and Arabian Peninsula. It is typically enjoyed as a dip or spread for sandwiches. The liquid is strained from yogurt until it reaches the consistency of soft cheese. The labneh is then spread onto a plate where it is drizzled with olive oil and typically sprinkled with za’atar or dried mint. Labneh can also be dried before being rolled into balls and stored in olive oil.
What makes labneh so addictive is its tang. To put it in North American terms, this is the best cream cheese you’ve ever had. It just carries so much more flavor and it does it with scant ingredients. As I mentioned before, in its simplest form, labneh is yogurt and salt. You could even omit the salt and still have something you could call labneh. But even if you’re making a honey-sweetened labneh, I still think you should add salt.
And now we’ve reached the other reason I love labneh. It is seriously versatile. You can add a heck of a lot of ingredients to labneh without much risk. I was a little concerned when making today’s Roasted Red Pepper Labneh because peppers tend to carry a lot of liquid. But with a little extra straining time, I was able to achieve the thick spreadable texture I wanted. And this is another place where labneh demonstrates its versatility. You can pull your labneh when it arrives at your desired consistency. Hang it for a short amount of time if you want it a little looser for dipping purposes. Or increase the hanging time for a thicker more spreadable consistency.
But enough about labneh in general, let’s talk about this Roasted Red Pepper Labneh. This recipe begins, predictably enough, with red bell pepper. I have a gas stove so I prefer to roast my pepper over an open burner. If that isn’t a possibility for you, feel free to split the pepper in half and pop it under the broiler cut-side-down. Roast the pepper until the skin blistered and turns black. From here, deseed the pepper and pop it into a food processor. Blitz until very smooth and set the puree aside.
Place some yogurt in a bowl and add the puree. You want to use a yogurt with 3% milk fat or higher. None of that diet stuff. I prefer to use 5% but you do you. To the yogurt and puree, add minced garlic and salt. Pour the mixture into four layers of cheesecloth and form it into a bundle. Suspend the bundle over the sink or over a bowl. Leave the labneh to hang for 3-5 hours depending on how thick you want the finished labneh to be.
And that’s pretty much it. I told you labneh was easy to pull off. From here you can top your labneh any way you wish. I chose to grill some corn and cut it from the cob before sprinkling it over the surface of the labneh. I finished it off with a drizzle of good-quality olive oil and some fresh mint. But you can add any toppings you fancy. You could keep things simple with oil and dried mint or add a little sumac or bury the entire thing in fresh watercress. The world is your oyster, or more specifically, your bowl of labneh.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Roasted Red Pepper Labneh with Charred Corn. Honestly, this recipe is so simple I actually felt a little guilty writing it. But it’s so delicious it warranted its own full post.
Roasted Red Pepper Labneh with Charred Corn
- 1 Food Processor
- 1 cast-iron grill
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1½ cups yogurt**
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ear corn
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp good quality olive oil ***
- Fresh mint leaves for spinkling
- Using tongs, blister the red pepper on all sides over an open flame. If you don't have a gas stove, heat your broiler to high and cut the pepper in half. Place the pepper cut-side-down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and broil until the skin blisters and turns black – about 10 minutes.1 red bell pepper
- Deseed the pepper and cut it into quarters. Place the pepper in a food processor and blitz until very smooth. Set the puree aside.
- In a large bowl, place the yogurt, red pepper puree, garlic, and salt. Stir to combine.1½ cups yogurt**, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp kosher salt
- Line a bowl with four layers of cheesecloth and pour the yogurt mixture into it. Form the cheesecloth into a bundle and suspend it over the sink or a bowl. **** Leave the labneh to drain for 3-5 hours depending on desired thickness.
- When the labneh is almost done draining, coat the corn with the regular olive oil and sprinkle it all over with salt. Heat a cast iron grill over high heat until smoking. Grill the corn on all sides until blistered.1 ear corn, 1 tbsp olive oil
- Place the labneh in a bowl and smooth the surface using the back of a spoon. Cut the corn from the cob and sprinkle the labneh with the kernels. Finish the labneh with a drizzle of good quality oil and fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately with chips or pita. *****1 tbsp good quality olive oil ***, Fresh mint leaves