appetizer

Lebni <3

Lebni or Labaneh: is it yogurt? Is it cheese? It works as both so let’s ditch the semantics and get to eating. (technically lebni is a kefir cheese, similar to greek yogurt, but with a more spreadable texture) Traditionally served on pita with olive oil and mint, I find it’s equally delicious spread on most anything.

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Growing up in Southeastern Michigan, lebni was readily available in area grocery stores, but regrettably, I only partook when eating out at Middle Eastern restaurants. Fortunately, I’ve rediscovered it now that I’m better equipped to appreciate its amazing flavor and texture. I’m so happy I found authentic, old world-style lebni at my new favorite place: Specialty Produce.

I love lebni for fancied up cracker canapés (or just for eating straight from the carton). It’s perfect for when your standard cream cheese just won’t do! Lebni is usually full fat so I like ingredients that cut through that creaminess, and complement the tart yogurt-y flavor. Pictured I have saltines topped with a dollop of lebni and:

  • Lightly steamed asparagus and lemon salt. The crisp fresh vegetable is complemented by the soft creamy cheese, and the lemon salt enhances both flavors.
  • Smoked beef brisket. The rich meat and cheese are a match made in heaven, but the acidic flavors of the rub really let both shine.
  • Pickled corn salsa. A favorite of mine from Trader Joe’s, the sweetness and the crunch of the corn complement the creaminess of the cheese, and the vinegar helps brighten all the flavors.
  • Fresh cherries. My absolute favorite. The sweetness of the cherries, the creaminess of the cheese, and the salt and crunch of the cracker are all I could ever want in one bite.

These are just four examples I threw together from what I had readily on hand, but the possibilities are endless! Experiment! Let me know what you come up with in the comments!

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