I first made this ‘pink labneh’ with my two young sons – one who loves labneh and one who loves everything pink – as a way of reintroducing them to beetroot. Both ate beetroot as babies (one perhaps more enthusiastically than the other). I remember their messy, pink stained faces and bibs that never came clean again. But when they hit their selective eating phases during their toddler years, beetroot was high up the rejection list.
I can see why. I love beetroot for its sweet, earthy flavour, but it isn't a vegetable that is eaten every week, so it becomes alien. Viewed with suspicion by cautious eaters. The vibrant colour of this labneh reeled them in eventually. It's hard to resist something so bright.
Simple to make and visually stunning, this beetroot labneh works well as a pre-dinner dip or as part of a more substantial lunch. I like to serve it with dark rye bread and smoked mackerel.
You will need to make this the day before you want to eat it as the labneh needs to sit in the fridge to strain over night.
2 medium beetroot
250g whole milk yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt (optional)
2 tbsp toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
a few fronds of dill
walnut oil (optional)
Begin by cooking the beetroot. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan).
Cut the leaves off the beetroot and discard them, but do not top and tail the beetroot at this stage. Wash the beetroot and wrap it in foil. Place the foil wrapped beetroot on a baking tray and put it in the oven. Roast for 1 to 1½ hours until cooked through. You can test whether the beetroot is cooked by unwrapping the foil and piercing the beetroot with the end of a sharp knife. The beetroot is cooked when the beetroot is tender and the knife slides easily into the beetroot.
Leave the beetroot until it is cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, top and tail the beetroot and peel it (it is probably a good idea to wear washing up gloves to handle the beetroot, otherwise you will end up with pink fingers). The skin should rub off easily. Put the peeled beetroot into a food processor or blender and blitz to a purée. Depending on the size of your beetroot, you should end up with around 150g beetroot purée.
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, 150g beetroot puree and the salt (if using – leave the salt out if you are making this for babies or young children) until combined.
Line a sieve with a piece of muslin and place it over a bowl. Put the beetroot mixture into the muslin-lined sieve. Draw up the sides of the muslin and twist together so that the beetroot mixture forms a ball (see photo below). Leave in the fridge for 12-24 hours to strain.
Put the beetroot labneh into a serving dish and top with chopped toasted walnuts, dill and, if you have some, a little walnut oil. Serve with crackers, crispbread or crudités.
This is the full version of my Beetroot Labneh recipe which appeared on the Peter's Yard website as part of their 7 Dips for 7 Days campaign earlier this month.