Mediterranean Baby Steps…..
I am always on the hunt for the healthiest, but happiest, way to eat. I don’t believe in eating a plate full of grass, never eating chocolate, and being miserable in the name of being fit. It is unnecessary, and I refuse to do it. I have gone through a few different food phases on my nutritional journey and have found that by taking the best of every way of eating, and every culture, you can have a pretty well rounded and extremely interesting way of eating. It builds muscle, keeps the weight off, keeps you from feeling sad that you can’t have any of the good stuff, because as you’ve seen we so totally can, and you keep from getting bored. The most recent type of eating my husband and I have been discussing is Mediterranean cuisine.
Instead of taking this cuisine by storm like I normally would I am gradually adding it in a little at a time. We still eat a lot of Mexican food, Asian food, and now we are integrating Mediterranean. Again, we aren’t going crazy here, just taking the best from everything. And I’ve noticed that the healthiest dishes, from every culture, are fairly plant based with lots of grains, legumes, lean meats, fish, and types of dairy. I was chatting with Kat, a fellow food blogger, on her Facebook page the other day and she has been looking at the Mediterranean way of eating as well, so here is your first recipe Kat! (You should absolutely stop on over and check out her blog, it is one of my addictions. 😉 )
I don’t really think that I am giving you a recipe today, but more of a method. Well, I guess it is really both, but either way, it isn’t hard, and the ingredients are so simple, you probably already have them on hand! I have never made cheese, but I have always wanted to. And I figured what better cheese to start with then Labneh, a super simple Mediterranean cheese made from Greek yogurt. I have realized, after eating several Mediterranean condiments, or add ins, that they really like sour food. This cheese isn’t any different, BUT the wonderful thing about it is you can pair it with just about anything. Most recipes recommend that you marinate it in olive oil, I didn’t do that. I did a small olive oil drizzle over the top when I put it on some homemade pita chips. (OK, that is a whole other story. Lets just say I overcooked some homemade pitas, which worked out great to be turned into chips, but you can look for the pita recipe sometime this week. 🙂 ) You could even do a small drizzle of honey, just like you would in your Greek yogurt.
A lot of recipes say that it takes 24 – 48 hours for your cheese to form. Mine took about 4 hours. I didn’t have any cheese cloth, like you would normally use, so I used a kitchen rag that I had cut from a really worn out cotton (t-shirt material) bed sheet, so it was fairly thin. I used a twisty bread tie to tie it up, and within a couple of hours it was set. I still left it overnight though before I made it into balls. I did a very small batch because a little goes a long way, but it was simple. I wish that I would have had fresh herbs, but instead I used an Italian seasoning blend and some sea salt. Once the balls are made you can keep them in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week, if you want to put them in olive oil you can keep them about a month. However, you decide to make it, take the time to savor the new flavors, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Non Marinated Labneh
By Angie Gouchenour
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or equal parts oregano, marjoram, thyme, and sage)
Pinch of sea salt
Place a thin rag/kitchen towel, (you can also use cheesecloth or a coffee filter) over a strainer, over a bowl (My strainer fits on top of the bowl)
NOTE: Make sure that the cloth is thin and if you use cheesecloth double or triple it
Place the Greek yogurt in the center of the towel and tie with a bread tie, or string; place in the refrigerator for 4 hours or more.
When you check it, it should be soft, but molded
Knead the seasoning, and salt, into the cheese until thoroughly combined; shape into 3 balls
Place in a clean, dry glass jar and store in the refrigerator
1 serving (1 Labneh ball) 35 calories