Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh adds the savoury note.
Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh adds the savoury note. Labneh, a simple dripped yogurt cheese, 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.
There are many uses for labneh, 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 yogurt for a rich and creamy result.
- 2 medium beetroots, about 250g in total with tail and 3cm of stalk attached
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of caster sugar
- 24 fresh raspberries
- 20 small fresh mint leaves
- 500g full-fat natural yogurt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
To make the labneh, take a double thickness square of clean muslin or a fine linen glass cloth and place it over a sieve sitting over a bowl. Add the yogurt and olive oil and tie the four corners of the muslin to make a knot. Secure the knot with some string. You now need to hang the tied muslin bag by the string over the bowl to allow the whey in the yogurt to drip off for at least 8 hours, leaving you with a soft cheese.
I hang the bag from a cup hook attached to a shelf and that works perfectly. If that all sounds too complicated, just sit the muslin bag in a sieve over a deep bowl and that also will do the job quite successfully.
When the whey has all dripped out, simply remove the muslin and chill the cheese, covered, until you are ready to serve it. It will keep in the fridge for three or four days.
To prep the beetroot, 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.
Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer until the skin rubs off the beetroots easily when pushed. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes for fresh new season beetroots to 2 hours for older beets, so it is impossible to give an absolute time. The cooked beets should be very tender all the way through.
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 even the previous day.
To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and some salt and pepper together. Taste and correct the seasoning.
To assemble the salad, slice the beetroots very thinly (I use a mandolin for this) and divide between four serving plates (the salad can also be assembled family style on a large flat platter and brought to the table).
Cut some of the raspberries in half lengthways and some in cross-section slices and scatter over the beetroots. Whisk the dressing well and spoon some of it on.
Place a dessertspoon of labneh in the centre of each plate. Scatter on the mint leaves and a final drizzle of dressing and serve.