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Make Gill Meller’s roasted roots

Leftover stock of winter veg? Look no further than this recipe from River Cottage's organic and sustainable food evangelist Gill Meller

Serves 4

Preparation time 8 hrs

Cooking time 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 small beetroots (roughly golf ball sized)
  • 1 medium-sized celeriac
  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated with skin on
  • A generous handful of sage leaves
  • 4-5 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • About 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the labneh

  • 500ml plain yoghurt or milk
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Method

  1. The labneh should be made at least 8 hours before you want to eat the dish. Place the yoghurt or milk in a bowl, add the salt and stir it in thoroughly. Line a large sieve with a square of clean muslin, cheesecloth or even a very thin cotton tea towel. Spoon the salted yoghurt into the cloth then gather up the sides.
  2. Tie the cloth at the top so it encloses the yoghurt. You can suspend the ball of yoghurt over a bowl so it can drain, or leave it sitting in its sieve over a bowl.
  3. Transfer it to the fridge and leave it for 6-8 hours or overnight.
  4. The labneh is ready when a significant amount of liquid has drained into the bowl and the yoghurt has the texture of thick crème fraiche. Transfer the labneh from the cloth into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  5. Scrub the beetroots, halve them if they are really small or quarter them if they are a bit bigger. Peel the celeriac and cut it into 3-4cm pieces. Trim the base and top from the fennel, reserving any green, frondy leaves. Remove the outer layer of the bulb if it's a little tired, then halve the bulb, and cut each half into 3 or 4 wedges. Peel the onions and cut them into wedges, root to tip.
  6. Add the beetroot, celeriac, fennel and onion to the tray, along with the garlic cloves, sage leaves, rosemary and fennel seeds. Season with plenty of salt and pepper, trickle everything generously with the olive oil and then toss together well.
  7. Roast the veg for about 30 mins then gently stir it with a spatula. Scatter over the pumpkin seeds and return the tray to the oven for a further 15-20 mins or until everything is tender and beginning to colour.
  8. Remove the tray from the oven and stir again. Allow to cool for 10-15 mins.
  9. To serve, spread the labneh out over a large platter. Arrange the warm roasted vegetables over the top, then give everything a final trickle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. If you have reserved any fennel tops, tear them over the salad just before serving.