labneh with artichokes

greg malouf is one of my current heroes… his modern, middle eastern cuisine is so inspiring! it’s not difficult to recreate, it’s vegetable-oriented, it’s full of flavor… in simple words: i love his cookbook ‘arabesque’ (that i reviewed here). and i’ve already tried several dishes off it. one is the labneh with artichokes. another one (coming soon) is a marvelous white bean soup with merguez (oh my day, is it good). and yet another one is a yeasted flat bread (though technically i also borroughed the recipe from another chef’s book, to be featured here soon). so, this post somewhat turned out to be an inspiration (or teaser, in my advertising influenced language…) post (unintentionally). i hope you keep on reading, because i’ve got lots in store, and it’s only fun if i can share it with you.
ps: i’ve been making labneh forever (surprisingly, so far only documented here, though it’s really a staple in my kitchen), and i just can’t get enough. it’s my favorite starter for entertaining. my guests love it, too (or so they say).

labneh with artichokes
inspired by greg malouf (though i probably didn’t really follow his recipe)
500 g creamy (i take greek) goat’s yogurt
1 can artichokes, sott’olio (in oil)
1 handful mint leaves, finely chopped
1 handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp. fleur de sel 
1 drop harissa
1 tsp. black cumin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
pour the yogurt into a (fine mesh) colander lined cheese cloth. add a generous pinch of salt to the yogurt. shape into a ball with the cheese cloth. put something heavy on it (like a can of something) and place the colander with the yogurt on top of a bowl, to catch the liquid. place in the fridge and let drain for at least 24 hours (48 are better for a really firm, creamy result).
before serving, cut the artichokes in halves or quarters (depending on size). don’t worry if they ‘break’, it can absolutely be like a loose, chopped up salad. add a little olive oil, the parsley and mint, one garlic clove, some of the lemon zest and juice (not all), a generous pinch of fleur de sel and the cumin seeds. toss to combine, season with more salt and pepper if necessary. 
remove the yogurt from the cheese cloth. season it with one garlic clove, a bit of the lemon zest and juice, a drop or two of harissa and some more salt (if necessary). note: i like my labneh basic, i.e. not very fragrant, but still, it needs a bit of salt and a garlic (though malouf wouldn’t do it, i guess) won’t hurt. too plain, after all, is sometimes boring. the harissa and lemon add a nice tanginess. 
for serving, spread the labneh onto a flat plate with a spatula. arrange the artichoke salad (in a tiny pile) in the middle. pour over the remaining olive oil, so that most of the labneh is covered in oil. sprinkle with some more fleur de sel (for the look). serve immediately, with pita or another yeasted flatbread. 
notes on preservation: if not to be served immediately, cover with cling film and store in the fridge for up to two days. if you want to preserve it for longer, shape balls out of the labneh and store them in a can filled with olive oil.

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