What: Root Vegetable Slaw with Labneh
Where: Jerusalem (Cookbook of the month, January)
Who: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
To make this recipe, one must be brave and purchase some unfamiliar vegetables, namely kohlrabi and celery root. But one can courageously take the plunge and discover, at first bite, that what sings loudest is not the unfamiliar veg, but the homey familiarity of lemon, sugar, and vinegar. The vegetables brine together in this sprightly combination and, in turn, are justly glorified. If you’re leery of beets, you may find this recipe a surprise and a blessing. You could also replace the sherry vinegar with balsamic vinegar. Though it may not be authentic to Jerusalem, the balsamic will increase the amiability of the beet on your tongue by the vinegar’s almost berry-like sweetness. Apple cider vinegar also pairs very well, and it is what I use. Ottolenghi and Tamimi call for 2 teaspoons for sugar; I used 1 teaspoon Super Sweet Blend. Honey would be another excellent choice.
Labneh is simply yogurt that has been drained of most of its liquid and is consequently very thick. I omit it here, but it certainly is a perfect condiment. The authors include a recipe for it in the cookbook, using both cow and goat’s milk yogurt.
This sweet, tangy, bright little salad keeps a good week in the fridge. I have found it to be an ideal pair for many of Jerusalem‘s recipes. But we have also discovered many ways to use it beyond the middle eastern fare…most recently, we piled it on a salad with Shaye Elliot’s pulled BBQ beef.
If you care to preserve the beautiful colors as long as possible, keep the beets apart from the other veg until assembly, and do not mix them thoroughly together until serving. Afterward, the whole will quickly turn beet red, but that far from a bad thing.