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Roast Vegetables with Labneh and Zhug


Roast Vegetables with Labneh and Zhug

Serves 4

2 red peppers
1 large aubergine
8 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
90 ml (6 tbsp)olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Labneh
400g (14oz) Greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper

For the Zhug
3 medium green chillies
2 red bird's eye chillies
seeds from 8 cardamom pods
7.5 ml (1 1/2 tsp) caraway seeds
3 garlic cloves
a large bunch of coriander
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, or to taste


You have to start the Labneh the day before, just line a sieve with a bit of cheesecloth and set it over a small bowl. Put the yoghurt into the cheesecloth and refrigerate the whole thing. The yoghurt will lose a bit of excess moisture over the next 24 hours, leaving you with a firmer mixture, a bit like cream cheese. Help it by giving it a bit of a squeeze once or twice.

Tumble the drained yoghurt into a bowl. Add the garlic, a little salt and pepper and mash it all together. Cover and put the labneh in the fridge until you need it.

Halve and de-seed the peppers and cut each half lengthways into four broad strips. Cut the aubergine into rounds, quarter the largest slices and halve the rest. Halve the tomatoes and the onion and cut the onion into half-moon-shaped slices.

Put all the vegetables into a roasting tin with the olive oil and seasoning. Gently turn the vegetables over to coat them in the oil, then roast them in an oven preheated to 190C (375F) Gas mark 5 for 40 minutes.

To make the zhug, half and de-seed the chillies - be careful not to rub your eyes with your hands afterwards as the bird's eyes in particular are very strong - and put them in a food processor with the spices, garlic and coriander. Add the olive oil with the motor running. Taste and add a really good squeeze of lime. Add some salt to taste as well.

Break the labneh up into smallish chunks and dot it among the vegetables. Spoon some of the zhug over the top and put the rest into a bowl so that people can help themselves. Serve with warm Arab bread or ciabatta.

Reproduced with the kind permission of Diana Henry from the book Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, published by Mitchell Beazley 2002, ISBN 1-84000-501-7
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