ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH LABNEH & WILD PESTO
This is one of my current favourite sides to serve with a roast. Or serve as a vegetarian starter with warm flatbreads.
Labneh is a "yoghurt cheese", popular in the Middle East made by straining Greek yoghurt. It's a bit of a faff but so easy - you just need a bit of muslin (we use cheap baby ones which you can reuse).
I am calling it "wild pesto" because I love a bit of a forage and pesto is often an easy thing to knock up with your findings. This particular one is made with stinging nettles ... yep, you heard me. I was inspired by the "Jersey Royals with nettle butter" I ate at the amazing Eat Native this week.
Don your marigolds and head outside (don't pick them from a roadside though). Blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes removes their sting, simple as that.
Roasted baby carrots with labneh & wild pesto
200g baby carrots with their tops on if you can
500g Greek yoghurt
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of a whole lemon
Chopped herbs (coriander, parsley or basil perhaps - optional)
6 healthy nettle stems
A handful of the carrot tops
40 - 50g toasted nuts (in my opinion, pine nuts are the king but you can use any - or even seeds)
A squeeze of lemon
A glug of extra virgin olive oil
A tiny clove of garlic (or wild garlic if it's in season)
For the labneh:
Pour the yoghurt into the middle of a baby muslin, gather it up into a bag and tie with string. Hang it in your fridge over a bowl over night until it is firm. Remove from the fridge and blend or whisk in all of the other ingredients - adjust seasoning to taste.
For the pesto, discard the stalks of the nettles and plunge them into salted boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water and squeeze. Blend with the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. There are many ways to skin a cat with pesto, but I like to puree the greens and keep the nuts and cheese chunky. So chuck in your grated parmesan and your toasted nuts and pulse. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Turn the oven on to 210c. Clean the carrots and put in the oven with the honey and olive oil. You're roasting them quickly so they char but still stay a little al dente. Turn a few times in the roasting pan - depending on how baby your carrots are, they'll cook in about 10 - 15 minutes.
To assemble, spread the labneh on the plate and drizzle the pesto around. Lay the warm carrots in a line through the middle.