Saffron Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes, Crispy Chickpeas and Buckwheat with Labneh
Labneh – or strained yoghurt – is a beloved accompaniment in the Middle East and luckily it’s easy enough to make at home.
This really is one of our favourite dishes to feed a crowd. It plays on complementary textures and flavours: smooth with crunch, sweet with tart, and spice with soothing labneh.
Serves: 6-8 as a side
Photography: Laura Edwards
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Season: Late Spring/Summer
4 red peppers, halved and deseeded
large handful of small mixed tomatoes (approx. 20)
few sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon harissa
large pinch of saffron threads
2 cloves garlic, sliced into thin chips
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a glug for frying
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
1⁄2 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed (120g drained weight)
2 tablespoons buckwheat
small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
sea salt and pepper
For The Labneh
1kg natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon sea salt
For The Spicy Nuts
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons roughly chopped pine nuts
2 teaspoons chopped hazelnuts
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
First make the labneh. Line a deep bowl with a double layer of cheesecloth (or a clean dishcloth). Stir the yoghurt and salt together and place in the centre of the cloth. Pull the corners of the cloth up to make a ball and tie closed tightly with string. Suspend over a bowl to collect the liquid (a cupboard handle works well) or set in a sieve over a bowl. If the weather is hot do this in the fridge. Let this hang while you get on with the rest of the recipe (or overnight if you have time). See our step-by-step guide on how to make labneh here.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the peppers and tomatoes on the lined tray and scatter with the thyme sprigs. In a small bowl, mix together the harissa, saffron, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season well. Drizzle this over the peppers and tomatoes, mixing in with your hands. Finally sprinkle the sugar over the top and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot add the drained chickpeas and buckwheat with a good sprinkle of sea salt and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Now for the spicy nuts. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and add all the spices, chopped nuts and chilli flakes. Sizzle for 3–5 minutes until the spices have crisped. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the peppers and tomatoes are out of the oven and cool enough to handle, peel the skins off the peppers and place the flesh in a mortar and pestle with the juices collected in the tray. Pound together to form a coarse, loose paste.
Serve by dolloping the labneh onto a large plate. Spoon the peppers over, then dot the tomatoes about sporadically, followed by the crisped chickpeas and buckwheat, then the spicy nuts (with all the delicious oil). Finish with a scattering of chopped coriander.
Lucy & Jemima’s cooking is simple, seasonal, honest and delicious — whether you’re eating at their restaurant or cooking from their book. A Love of Eating is about their approach to cooking and eating — creating colourful, fresh and wholesome meals to share and enjoy, always with a little bit of fun. Published by Square Peg with beautiful photography by Laura Edwards.