This recipe calls for a brine cure to soften and essentially begin to cook the roots before they’re griddled. They have a bright, spicy flavour and a deliciously tender texture, contrasting brilliantly with the smooth, cool strained yoghurt. We used beetroot, carrots and celeriac here, but a mixture of other root veg would work just as well.
Labneh is a strained yoghurt cheese that needs a few hours to develop, but once you’ve spent five minutes setting it up, you don’t need to do anything else.
450g Greek yoghurt
250ml white vinegar
50ml Pure Strong Brine
40g caster sugar
2 bay leaves
10 coriander seeds
300g mixed beetroot (try a mix of candy, yellow and classic purple), unpeeled
300g mixed carrots, peeled and halved from top to bottom
150g celeriac, roughly peeled and chopped into irregular triangles
a handful of basil leaves, washed and roughly torn
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Start by making the labneh. Place a sieve over a bowl (leaving a few centimetres clear between the base of the sieve and the bowl) and line the sieve with a cheesecloth or a couple of layers of muslin. If you don’t have either, a clean tea towel will do just as well. Pour the yoghurt into the centre of the cloth and cover. Set aside for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
When the labneh has been draining for a few hours, make the salt cure by pouring the vinegar, water, Pure Strong Brine, sugar and spices into a large saucepan. Place over a medium heat and put the beetroot in the saucepan as well. Bring to the boil and cook the beetroot at a gentle boil for 10 minutes, then remove from the brine with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water. Rub the skins from the beetroot and set aside.
Next, add the carrots and celeriac to the pan and cook them gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and pat dry with kitchen paper. They will be lightly stained with pink from the beetroot, but this will look pretty when they’re cooked.
Heat your griddle pan to its highest heat for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the beetroot into wedges about the size of a couple of clementine segments. Char the vegetables in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side, without moving them between turning them (this will help the clear char marks to form and a delicious smoky flavour to develop.
Spread the labneh on a platter and arrange the charred vegetables over the top. Scatter with the basil leaves and drizzle generously with olive oil. If you can remember, a spritz of the Pure Strong Brine to finish is delicious.
IMAGE: Jess Lea-Wilson
RECIPE: Anna Shepherd