We strongly recommend that you bake the beetroot [Ed. note, beets in North America] for this recipe according to the instructions below – baked beetroot have a stronger flavour, deeper colour and a denser, crunchier texture. Having said that, you could use boiled and it will still taste really nice. We use regular purple beetroot, but do try multicoloured ones if you wish. And if you don’t have time to make the labneh, you could use a smear of oat crème fraîche.
For the Baked Beetroot
6 medium beetroot, trimmed
1 orange, quartered
4 sprigs of rosemary
3 garlic cloves
Drizzle of olive oil
For the Salted Pistachios
50g (1 3/4oz) salt
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) warm water
200g (7oz) raw shelled pistachio nuts
For the Tamarind Glaze
4 tablespoons agave syrup
3 tablespoons Middle Eastern black tamarind concentrate
1/2 tablespoon toasted and coarsely crushed cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon sumac
Splash of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 red chilli, thinly sliced
200g (7oz) baby spinach, washed
About 200g (7oz) Soya Labneh, about 1 tablespoon per person (see recipe below)
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4.
2 Cut a piece of foil large enough to wrap the beetroot and an equally large piece of baking parchment. Place the foil on a baking tray and top with the baking parchment. Put the beetroot and the other ingredients for the baked beetroot on top and then wrap the parchment and foil around to seal tightly. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
3 Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, leaving the oven on. Peel and cut the beetroot in half and then into wedges, yielding about 6 wedges per beetroot (discard the orange and aromatics).
4 While the beetroot are cooling, make the salted pistachios. Add the salt to the measured warm water in a bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the nuts and leave to soak for a few minutes. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
5 Using a slotted spoon, scoop the nuts on to the lined baking sheet and spread out, then bake for 15–20 minutes at the same oven temperature as for the beetroot. Remove, leave to cool and then crush slightly. (Store what you don’t use, or if making in advance, in an airtight container.)
6 To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
7 To finish, heat the olive oil in a wok, add the garlic and chilli and fry over a medium-high heat for 1 minute, stirring. Add the baked beetroot and about 1 tablespoon of the glaze and toss over a high heat for about 1 minute until coated.
8 Transfer the beetroot to a large bowl, add the baby spinach and toss together. Drizzle tamarind glaze on each plate and then add a smear of the soya labneh. Add a pile of the beetroot and spinach mixture, topping off with the salted pistachios.
* * *
Makes about 400g (14oz)
Labneh is a delicious Middle Eastern cheese that is very simple to make. We find that using soya yogurt gives you a very similar creamy result to using dairy yogurt. Consequently, we have replaced our dairy version with this vegan one across our menu. We even received a complaint from someone who refused to believe this was vegan! We often use our labneh in dips or add a smear of it with a salad, but it can be served in its own right, drizzled with olive oil and maybe sprinkled with sumac, paprika or dukkah and scooped up with warm flatbread.
500ml (18fl oz) soya yogurt
80ml (2 3/4fl oz) soya cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator for 3–4 hours – don’t skip this step, or the mixture will be too loose to hang.
2 Line a large sieve with a piece of muslin and set it over a bowl. Scoop all the mixture into the centre of the muslin. Gather up the edges of the muslin around the mixture to form a pouch and tie together with kitchen string. Tie the loose ends of the muslin around the handle of a wooden spoon. Suspend the spoon over a container deep enough to allow at least 10cm (4 inches) between the bottom of the pouch and the base of the container so that the muslin will remain clear of the liquid released by the yogurt.
3 Transfer to the refrigerator and leave to drain for 12–24 hours, depending on whether you want a soft, creamy result or a firmer cheese. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5–7 days.
Recipe from Mildreds Vegan Cookbook by Dan Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman. Copyright 2018 Mitchell Beazley.
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