spinach, new season carrots and lentils with labneh recipe image

Print spinach, new season carrots and lentils with labneh

Smoky griddled carrots, earthy lentils and wilted greens topped with crunchy toasted hazelnuts and sharply creamy labneh. Eat this beautifully balanced vegetarian main either warm or at room temperature. For the labneh, you’ll need to start the process a day beforehand. It’s well worth the wait, but if you’re in a hurry replace it with plain yoghurt, feta or soft goat’s cheese.

Ingredients

  • for the labneh:
  • 450g greek yoghurt
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 handful fresh mint (or parsley), chopped
  • for the lentils:
  • 200g Puy lentils, rinsed well
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 700ml unsalted veg stock or water
  • 200g spinach, tough stalks removed, roughly chopped if large leaves
  • 2 bunched onions, sliced
  • 500g bunched carrots, trimmed & scrubbed (no need to peel)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 handful hazelnuts, toasted
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Make the labneh: Put a square of muslin in a colander over a saucepan, with plenty overhanging. Stir the salt into the yoghurt, then spoon into the muslin. Gather up the ends to form a parcel.
  2. Chill in the fridge overnight, or for about 12 hours, giving the muslin a gentle squeeze a few times, to help it strain.
  3. Transfer to a bowl. It will have firmed up slightly. Discard the strained liquid in the pan. Stir the chopped herbs into the yogurt.
  4. Put the lentils in a saucepan with the celery, garlic, bay and thyme. Add the stock or water.
  5. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender and the stock has just evaporated, about 25 minutes. Top up with a little water if you need to.
  6. Stir in the spinach 5 minutes before the lentils are ready, so it wilts in the pan. Once cooked, toss in the onions and season with salt and pepper.
  7. While the lentils are cooking, boil the carrots in salted water until just tender, approx 8-12 minutes.
  8. Drain, then cut in half lengthways. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Griddle until charred lines appear (or fry in a pan until some colour appears, if you don’t have a griddle pan).
  10. Whisk the honey, orange juice and olive oil. Toss with the lentils and spinach. Serve scattered with the carrots, parsley and hazelnuts, with the labneh.

Cooks notes

Labneh is yogurt strained to produce a firmer texture, like a soft cheese. It adds a fresh flavour, but you could leave it out. To toast hazelnuts, roast in their skins at 180˚C for 15 mins, tossing once. Put in a clean tea towel and rub to remove the skins.
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