By Sara Moulton, Associated Press
If there’s ever a time when you can have too much of a good thing, it might be right now, when fresh summertime herbs are beyond abundant. Happily, this recipe for Fresh Herbed Yogurt Cheese is just the ticket when you’re looking to put a dent in the stockpile of herbs overflowing in your garden or taking up too much space in your refrigerator. It’s a fresh cheese based on Greek yogurt, and it’s very flexible regarding its herbal flavorings.
I’ve chosen some of my favorites, including chives, parsley, thyme and tarragon. But if you have other herbs at hand — basil, cilantro, mint, oregano — go right ahead and swap them in for my mix.
Whichever herbs you use, be sure to chop them with a supersharp knife, and do so briefly and efficiently. Whacking away at herbs endlessly with a dull knife guarantees that you’ll end up with a wet, gray mess.
Making this cheese is simple, but you need to plan ahead because the yogurt takes 48 hours to drain. And although you’re welcome to dig into it right after you’ve added the herbs, it tastes much better if you let it chill overnight. Plus, it’s easier then to shape the cheese into a log or a round.
As an appetizer, this spread is delicious served on toasted French bread rounds or your favorite crackers. It’s also great in place of mustard or mayonnaise on a summer sandwich of sliced turkey, smoked salmon, or roast beef — or on veggie sandwiches starring cucumbers or tomatoes. However you use this cheese, you’ll be glad to have put the season’s herbs to good use.
FRESH HERBED YOGURT CHEESE
Start to finish: 2 1/2 days plus 20 minutes (20 active)
17.6 ounce container (about 2 cups) Greek yogurt, full-fat or low-fat, your choice
3 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Toasted baguette slices or crackers
Line a large strainer with a triple layer of rinsed and squeezed cheesecloth and set the strainer over a larger bowl. Pile the yogurt into the strainer, spreading it out. Cover with plastic wrap, top with a plate and a weight such as a can of tomatoes and let the yogurt drain in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
Transfer the drained yogurt to a bowl and stir in the next 7 ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. If time permits, cover and chill the cheese for up to 8 hours (to develop the flavor). Shape the cheese into logs or rounds and serve with toasted baguette slices or crackers. Makes a little over 2 cups.
Nutrition information per 2-ounce serving: 76 calories; 43 calories from fat; 5 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 4 mg cholesterol; 56 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 5 g protein.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”