Asparagus with labneh, mint, almonds and seeds

Asparagus with labneh, mint, almonds and seeds
  • Serves icon Serves 2-3
  • Time icon Hands-on time 15 min, plus at least 8 hours draining

This stunning spring starter by Gill Meller pairs charred asparagus with thick and creamy labneh, fresh mint and crunchy almonds.

This recipe is from Gill’s cookbook, ROOT STEM LEAF FLOWER: How to Cook with Vegetables and Other Plants (Quadrille £27).

Nutrition: For 3

Calories
342kcals
Fat
23.8g (5.5g saturated)
Protein
17.1g
Carbohydrates
18.1g (16g sugars)
Fibre
3g
Salt
1.9g
Calories
342kcals
Fat
23.8g (5.5g saturated)
Protein
17.1g
Carbohydrates
18.1g (16g sugars)
Fibre
3g
Salt
1.9g

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp skin-on almonds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • Rosemary sprig, leaves picked
  • 10-12 asparagus spears
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • Warmed flatbreads to serve (optional)

For the labneh

  • 500ml natural yogurt
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Handful fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

You’ll also need…

  • Sheet of muslin or thin cotton cloth

Method

  1. To make the labneh, put the yogurt in a bowl with the salt and stir well. Set a sieve over another bowl and line it with a square of clean muslin. Spoon the salted yogurt into the centre of the cloth, then gather up the sides and secure with string/elastic band/clips. Transfer to the fridge (still in the sieve and bowl) for 8-12 hours or overnight (see Make Ahead).
  2. Turn out the thickened labneh into a large, clean serving bowl. Pick the mint leaves from the stalks (discard the stalks). Set the smaller leaves aside and slice the larger leaves into thin ribbons. Stir the sliced mint into the labneh with the olive oil and some black pepper. Set aside while you prepare the asparagus.
  3. Put the almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and half the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan set over a low heat. Add the tamari, chilli flakes, if using, and rosemary, then set over a low heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for a few minutes until the nuts and seeds are dry, toasted and fragrant.
  4. If you plan to cook your asparagus on an open fire or barbecue, make sure it’s hot before you begin. Trim the woody base from each spear, then set the asparagus on a plate. Trickle over the olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the remaining cumin seeds. Cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes on each side or as long as it takes to char the spears nicely. (Alternatively, cook the asparagus in a hot griddle pan for a similar length of time.)
  5. Arrange the asparagus over the labneh, then scatter over the toasted nuts and seeds and reserved mint/leaves. Serve with a drizzle of oil and some flatbreads, if you like.

delicious. tips

  1. Easy swaps: You could use any mix of nuts and seeds you have in your cupboards.

  2. Start this recipe at least 8 hours and preferably the night before you plan to serve it.

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