Help needed with a yogurt-based pasta sauce.

It's almost there, but... I'm living in Israel, and I have several jars of labnah in olive oil (very well drained yogurt, rolled into balls and packed into a jar with olive oil and seasonings). The chili-spiced version seems perfect for a pasta sauce -- I started with a 'mock alfredo sauce' approach, and heated several of the balls through and thinned it with a bit of cream and some of the hot pasta water. I've tried milk (doesn't work at all) and varying amounts of cream and the olive oil. Even over very low heat, it comes out just a bit grainy. Suggestions?

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beyondcelery
beyondcelery March 25, 2011

I've not used labnah before, but I have used Greek yogurt for a pasta sauce. All I do is caramelize onions, add some garlic and pine nuts, then toss with the cooked pasta. I mix some of the pasta water into the yogurt to thin it and then pour that all over with chopped feta. I base my method on this recipe:
http://www.notquitenigella.com/2007/11/01/amy-sedaris-yogurt-spa-ghetti/

I think cooking the yogurt like you're doing is causing it to separate into curds and whey, giving you the grainy texture. Just don't cook it and you should be okay.

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macollins
macollins March 25, 2011

I agree with Syronai that the yogurt might be cooking too long. I've had a similar result when using a very dry ricotta, trying to get it creamy with pasta water and letting it go too long on the heat. It looked good and then all of the sudden - grainy. I get a better result when I add the ricotta at the very end, just mixing it with the pasta and some of the cooking liquid. The labnah might be similar.

Also, maybe the type you have is more cured than fresh? If that's the case, it's more like feta...you'll have lovely, crumbly product to toss with the pasta vs. something that's creamy.

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ATG117
ATG117 March 25, 2011

Not adding much except to concur. I've had this separation/grainy problem with greek yogurt when I've added the sauce over the heat. Solution is to add it off the heat.

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