Tuesday 26 September 2017

Caramelised chicory, labneh and macerated strawberry salad

Caramelised Chicory, Labneh and Macerated Strawberry Salad

The arrival of summer at our walled garden often takes us by surprise. The first sign is the quiet murmur of insects from various corners of the garden, then the burst of colour in the herbaceous borders alongside the central brick path. As the insects noisily gather around these flowers, we realise that summer has tiptoed in.

This salad showcases all that is great about the season. We use chicory as a contrast to the tangy sweetness of the macerated strawberries.

Serves four.

YOU WILL NEED

120g medium-sized strawberries, hulled and sliced vertically into three

About 200ml cider vinegar

300g caster sugar

6 large heads of chicory, cut into quarters through the root

Icing sugar, for dusting

A little ground cinnamon

A little cobnut oil (or hazelnut oil)

A few borage flowers (optional)

Black pepper For the labneh 500g ewe's-milk yogurt

½ tsp salt

Method

Prepare the labneh and strawberries a day in advance. Line a sieve with a piece of muslin or a cloth, allowing the ends to overhang the sieve. Put the yogurt in and mix in the salt. Cover the yogurt with the ends of the muslin, then place the sieve over a bowl. Leave in the fridge overnight.

The following day, liquid will have collected in the bowl and the yogurt will be thicker and creamier. Discard the liquid and spoon the yogurt into an airtight container. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Put the sliced strawberries in a plastic box and pour in enough cider vinegar just to cover them. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, strain off the vinegar into a bowl. Add the caster sugar to it and stir thoroughly until dissolved. Pour the vinegar over the strawberries and refrigerate until needed.

Place a griddle pan over a medium-high heat until hot. Lightly dust the chicory with icing sugar, then place flat-side down on the griddle. Cook without moving it until it begins to caramelise underneath and charred lines develop. Turn the pieces on to their other flat side and repeat, then flip them on to their rounded side and cook until tender. Remove the chicory from the griddle pan and set aside to cool a little.

Divide the chicory between four plates, spreading out some of the leaves. Dot the strawberries throughout, then add several teaspoons of the labneh. Sprinkle cinnamon over the labneh. Dress with oil, some of the macerating liquid from the strawberries and borage flowers, if using. Coarsely grind some black pepper over the strawberries and serve.

Irish Independent

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