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Recipe: Sweet saffron roast tomatoes with labneh salad
A deliciously light summer salad from Diana Henry.
Sweet saffron roast tomatoes with labneh salad of smoked anchovies, green beans and egg
Saffron and hot spices, sweet tomato flesh, clean acidic yogurt, there is an irresistible interplay of flavours here. Try to make sure you get some of the saffron juices to smear the labneh; the golden streaks on creamy white yogurt look beautiful.
Make this a complete main course by serving couscous on the side, or try kamut flavoured with preserved lemons. You can scatter either pistachios or almonds on top.
For the labneh
400g (14oz) Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander, mint or parsley leaves
Pinch of salt
For the tomatoes
18 plum tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp harissa
Good pinch of saffron stamens, plus more to serve
1⁄2 tbsp golden caster sugar (unless you have great sweet tomatoes)
15g (1⁄2oz) flaked almonds, lightly toasted
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves.
Make the labneh the day before you want to serve the dish. Line a sieve with a piece of muslin or a brand new J-cloth and set it over a bowl. Mix the yogurt with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Tip into the cloth, tie it up and refrigerate. The yogurt will lose moisture over the next 24 hours, leaving a firmer, ‘cheese-like’ substance. Help it along by giving it a squeeze every so often.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Halve the tomatoes and lay them in a single layer in a large roasting tin (or two small tins). Mix the regular olive oil, harissa and saffron and pour over the tomatoes. Turn the tomatoes over in the oil to make sure they are well coated, ending with them cut side up. Sprinkle with the sugar and season. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until caramelized and slightly shrunken. Leave to cool a little.
Take the labneh out of its cloth.
Carefully move the tomatoes (they are quite fragile and can fall apart easily) to a serving platter, dotting nuggets of the labneh among them as you go. You can also toast the flatbread, break it up, and arrange it among the tomatoes as well (or serve it on the side). Pour on any cooking juices which have collected in the tomato roasting tin, being sure to douse the flatbread if you have included it within the dish.
Scatter the almonds over the top, then heat another good pinch of saffron stamens with the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Add the extra virgin oil and mix with a spoon. Spoon over the dish; the golden dressing looks beautiful against the white labneh. Scatter with the coriander and serve warm, or at room temperature.
Taken from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry