Savory Yogurt

Yogurt. I don’t really remember eating it much until I studied abroad in Australia and found the creamiest of creamy yogurt. Seriously, why is Australian yogurt so creamy? I think it’s the bacteria profile. I’ve tried to find similar varieties in the US but haven’t been successful. Those so-called Australian-style brands don’t replicate my memories.

It was also in Australia that I discovered Greek yogurt covered in fruit, muesli or granola, and honey. In 2006, the Aussies were eating that stuff like crazy. At least, they were in the little coffee shop and cafe that I worked in. Quick shout out to the Aussies that pay a livable minimum wage. As a barista and occasional sandwich maker, in 2006 I was making $17/hour. Seriously.

Anyway, it was only a couple years ago that I started eating yogurt of the savory variety. I don’t even know why. One day, instead of adding honey, I threw in a little salt, and I’ve never turned back.

Savory Yogurt

My most recent iteration of savory yogurt includes truffle salt, but I’ve eaten varieties covered in za’atar, sprinkled with sumac, aleppo pepper, and dried mint, or others that are reminiscent of tzatziki. Sometimes just a dusting of cumin and ground coriander do the trick. For texture, add roasted nuts or seeds. I’ve even used edamame before. Think of yogurt as a blank canvas and you’ll start to see the possibilities.

Savory Yogurt (2)

In other news, Eric and I went to Idaho for the 4th of July and my birthday and had a blast backpacking in the Sawtooth Wilderness, visiting the little towns of Stanley and Ketchum, and exploring Boise via breweries. It was a really fun and affordable trip thanks yet again to our Southwest Companion Pass. The full set is here, but below are a couple favorite pics.

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Idaho (45)

Now, go eat some savory yogurt.

Savory Yogurt (3)

Savory Yogurt

*Vary amounts of each based on how much yogurt you want to eat! This makes the perfect mid-morning snack.

Plain, full-fat Greek or regular yogurt
High-quality sheep’s milk feta, cubed
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Fresh herbs, chopped (I used cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, and mint)
Fresh cracked pepper (I had some tellicherry peppercorns on hand)
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Truffle salt (you could also use truffle oil and add salt to taste)

Put the yogurt in a bowl, top it with everything, stir, eat. Always add the salt to taste – a little bit, stir, taste, add more if needed.

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Yogurt Cheese

I have made this yogurt cheese from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking twice now. I still don’t fully understand the difference between this and Greek yogurt, except that there is even less water content in yogurt cheese than there is in Greek-style yogurt. But still, what makes it cheese?

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Either way, it’s good! Eric and I have been eating it on crackers, but it’d also be good slathered on some toasted french bread. The combinations of spices are endless, but I’ve been sticking with my new favorite spice of the moment, turmeric. Add in some really fruity olive oil and fresh black pepper, and you have a snack worthy of those moments when you’re procrastinating on writing a paper related to healthcare in Nicaragua.

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Yogurt Cheese with Turmeric, Olive Oil, and Black Pepper

adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

1 32-ounce container plain yogurt (I have been loving Brown Cow brand)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Double line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the entire container of yogurt in and let strain for 8-12 hours, depending on how thick you want it to be. After 12 hours, I had almost two cups of liquid when mine was done. Transfer to another bowl and mix in the turmeric, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and penetrate every bite, then eat on crackers, bread, or by the spoonful!