Beetroot and Autumn Raspberries with Honey, Mint and Labna Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh here adds the savoury note to make this into a light and refreshing starter.

Ingredients

Beetroot and Autumn  Raspberries with Honey, Mint and Labna Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh here adds the savoury note to make this into a light and refreshing starter.

The labna is very easy to make, though you do need to start the process the previous day or at least early in the morning if you are serving it for dinner. The uses for labna, which really is a very simple dripped yoghurt cheese, are many and once you make it for the first time, you will probably wonder why you never made it before. Search out full fat thick organic yoghurt for a rich and creamy result.

Serves 4

Labna:

  • Natural full-fat yoghurt
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium beetroot c250g in total weight with tail and 3cm of stalk attached
  • 24 raspberries
  • 20 small mint leaves

Dressing: 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar

Method

To make the labna:

  1. Take a double-thickness square of muslin and place it over a sieve sitting over a bowl.
  2. Add the yoghurt and olive oil and tie the four corners of the muslin to make a knot. Secure the knot with some string.
  3. You now need to hang the tied muslin bag by the string over the bowl to allow the whey in the yoghurt to drip off leaving you your soft cheese. I hang the bag from a cup hook attached to a shelf and that works perfectly.
  4. When the yoghurt is dripped, simply remove the muslin and chill the cheese covered until you are ready to serve it.
  5. Rinse the beetroots under a cold running tap being careful not to break off the little tail. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and sugar to the water.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cover and continuing simmer until the skin when pushed rubs off the beetroots easily. The length of time can vary from 30 minutes for fresh new season roots, to 2 hours for older beets so an absolute time is impossible to give. The cooked beets should be very tender all the way through.
  7. Peel off the skin and any remaining stalk and cut off the tail. The beets can be prepared up to this point hours ahead or indeed the previous day. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper together to make the dressing. Taste and correct seasoning.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Slice the beetroots very thinly (I use a mandolin for this) and divide between the serving plates. Cut some of the raspberries in half lengthways and some in cross section slices, and scatter over the beetroots.
  2. Whisk the dressing well and spoon some of it on.
  3. Place a dessertspoon of labna in the centre of each plate.
  4. Scatter on the mint leaves and a final drizzle of dressing and serve.
  5. The salad can also be assembled family style on a large flat platter and brought to the table.