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{fabulous fermentation week!} za’atar roasted carrot salad with cashew labneh, avocado + frisée

It felt like it had been a while, so I made you a salad. With fragrant za’atar roasted carrots, curly + gorgeous frisée, blood orange dressing, avocado and some raw and vegan cashew labneh on the side. Yes! That delightfully thick middle eastern yogurt-cheese that brings the dreaminess to every food it touches–all plant based and vibed out for your enjoyment. I’m so excited to share this one with you.

I know last week I was talking about baking on a Saturday night like the old lady I can sometimes be, but please rest assured that I am somewhat versed in the ways of wildin’ out. When the lovely Elenore from Earthsprout emailed me and a bunch of wonderful bloggers about a week-long party put on by her and Sarah of My New Roots, all centered on fermented foods, I started to think about the possibilities for some outright uninhibited adventures in my kitchen.

As a practice, fermentation is a fun thing to acquaint your vegetables, nuts, beans etc with. It brings a whole new dimension of flavour and as a bonus: it’s rather empowering to do it all yourself/witness nature just doing its thing. Kimchi, vinegar, soy sauce, miso, wine, beer, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, yogurt… all of those tasty things are crawling with make-your-belly-happy bacteria. If you want to read a little more about fermented goodies for your health, check out Elenore and Sarah‘s posts. It’s time to populate the gut!

I’ve made kimchi, sourdough and sauerkraut a bunch of times (nerd alert! I even gave a sauerkraut making demo to a bunch of students at the culinary school I attended with one of those wrap-around-the-head-mics), but I wanted to try something a bit different. I love having a batch of cashew cream on hand for savoury applications. I started thinking about making it into yogurt… and then making the homemade cashew yogurt into labneh–that amazing drained yogurt that is so thick, tart and perfect in the corner of a mezze plate.

So I tried a batch with foggy expectations and was so excited when it turned out on the first go. I let the cashew cream come alive in a warm place for a full 36 hours for the yogurt stage. It got properly sour, so I set to work on draining it for the labneh treatment. The results were so thick and creamy, the rich taste of cashews coming through in a pleasant and fatty way, all punctuated by a big squeeze of lemon juice. Rather indulgent.

The rest of this winter salad is a breeze to scheme up. I roasted some pretty heirloom carrots in za’atar, that pungent, sharp and warm middle eastern spice blend (although it is based in the cultivation of dried and powdered za’atar bushes that grow wild in mountainous regions of the middle east), tossed them with some frisée for a whisper of bitterness, and a light blood orange and olive oil dressing, Some creamy avocado and a scoop of the cashew labneh complete the plate. This salad = pure wildin’ out. Go crazy with it, friends :)

za’atar roasted carrot salad with frisée, blood orange dressing + vegan cashew labneh
serves: 4
notes: If you can’t be bothered to make some cashew-based labneh at home (takes 2-3 full days), feel free to drain 1 cup of your favourite plain yogurt (goat, coconut, sheep, soy, cow etc) overnight with the juice of half a lemon and a sprinkle of salt (don’t stir it up!). A nice spoonful of Greek-style yogurt or Icelandic skyr would be great too.

labneh:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
scant 1/2 cup water
pinch of sea salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon

salad:
1 lb carrots, washed + trimmed
2 tsp za’atar
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 head of frisée, cored, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
juice of 1 blood orange
1 ripe avocado
salt + pepper

Start by making the cashew yogurt: combine the cashews and water in the pitcher of a blender. Blend on high for a few minutes, scraping the sides down here and there. Purée the cashews and scant 1/2 cup of water until a smooth paste forms.

Scrape the cashew cream into a sterilized jar. Cover the jar with a couple layers of cheese cloth and secure it at the top with a rubber band. Set the jar in a warm spot (not too warm) for 24-36 hours or until the mix has started to sour. I put my jar in the boiler room of the house and it was ready almost two days later. Check it every 5-8 hours if you can. There should be some separation happening in the jar. If you see any mold on the surface, throw it out and start again.

Make the yogurt into labneh: Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Line the strainer with a paper towel or coffee filter. Scrape the cashew yogurt into the paper towel lined strainer. Squeeze the lemon over top and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Don’t stir it in! Cover the bowl and strainer with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. The resulting labneh should be quite thick and it should have indentations from the paper towel. It is now ready to eat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the carrots into 2-3 inch lenths, then cut those lengths into halves or quarters–depending on the thickness of your carrots. Toss the carrot batons with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the za-atar, salt and pepper. Arrange them on a large baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes. They should be lightly browned and tender. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.

While the carrots are roasting and cooling, trim up the frisée and place it in a large bowl. Peel and pit the avocado, cut it into quarters and set aside.

Add the roasted carrots to the frisée. Squeeze the blood orange over top and add the remaining extra virgin olive oil to the salad. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste and toss it all together. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Add a quarter of the avocado and a dollop of labneh to each plate. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the labneh and give it a finishing sprinkle of za’atar if you like.

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Elenore Bendel Zahn23/01/2013 - 8:57 am

Holy cow!

Now THIS is food porn on a damn high level!
plus your writing is so brilliantly beautiful and wise and funny at the same time. I feel like I just wanna eat this whole post up (you included)

Big warm loving hug from sweden and thank god you decided you wanted to be a part of this bacteria revolution!

[...] My New Roots Green Kitchen Stories The Wooden Spoon Coconut and Quinoa Whole Promise Two Blue Lemons Golubka Eat It. Kyra’s Kitchen Ola Domowa The First Mess [...]

thelittleloaf23/01/2013 - 9:24 am

This looks absolutely stunning! I’ve been reading a lot about cashew cream recently and am intrigued to give it a try, even though I don’t go in for a particularly low dairy or vegan diet. Photos as beautiful as this must be what inspire me :-)

Kathryn23/01/2013 - 9:37 am

Oh Laura, you are some kind of genius. Cashew labneh? Want it. And this whole salad.

Michelle23/01/2013 - 10:13 am

Picturing you with a Gwen Stefani mic talking about sauerkraut pretty much made my day. A beautiful dish too :)

Courtney23/01/2013 - 10:26 am

I LOVE everything about this salad, though I might love the cashew labneh just a tad bit more! I’ll be experimenting with this soon for sure! Blood oranges are one of my favorites this time of year so it’s good to see them in the lineup also :)

Ashlae23/01/2013 - 12:35 pm

Girl, you’re a culinary genius. Love the idea of cashew labneh! I’ve been working on a raw cheesecake with strained cashew cream (and a crap load of lemon juice) but never thought to let it sit overnight to sour. You rule.

Eileen23/01/2013 - 3:00 pm

Cashew labneh? WOW. I was sort of aware of fermenting nut cheeses before, but only just. It’s super exciting to think I could do it at home! The salad looks amazing too–I love the idea of sweet-spicy roasted carrots with crispy lettuce. :)

Katie @ figgy & sprout23/01/2013 - 3:24 pm

Absolutely stunning photos, Laura! Such a creative recipe as well. I too am taking part in the Fabulous Fermentation Week :) Yay!

Meg23/01/2013 - 4:45 pm

Oh WOW, I am totally making this today! What a fantastic post, thanks!!

Heather23/01/2013 - 7:08 pm

I feel ashamed to admit that I’ve never tried labneh. This is something that needs to change. A fermented foods party seems right up my alley. So fun!

Jessica23/01/2013 - 8:12 pm

This looks beautiful! Fantastic photos.

Blaine23/01/2013 - 9:43 pm

The carrots are gorgeous! Love the idea of creating a labneh with cashews. Love your creations, I always look forward to them!

Blaine

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar24/01/2013 - 10:29 am

This looks fabulous!

Nancy24/01/2013 - 11:50 am

Wow, this is my kind of salad. Your pics are absolutely gorgeous too. I’m intrigued that you do not need to add a culture to the cashew mixture, just wild all the way! Must try this soon.

[...] Coconut & Quinoa The Wooden Spoon Eat it. Kyra’s Kitchen Ola Domowa Mince & Type The First Mess The Holy Kale Healthy & [...]

Stacy24/01/2013 - 2:16 pm

Like everyone else, I am highly impressed. You inspire me: with your creativity and willingness to just give things a go, and also generally, with your unbounded enthusiasm. I am super curious about this cashew labneh, and I love everything else in this salad, so hopefully this will make it to my table sometime soon!

Claire Suellentrop25/01/2013 - 12:40 am

Longtime follower, first-time commenter :) I am loving Fabulous Fermentation Week and the beautiful community of food bloggers it showcases, but I gotta say: of all the tasty recipes that have popped up this week, yours takes the cake. I cannot wait to make that labneh. Mouth’s watering as I type.

Nicola Galloway25/01/2013 - 4:57 am

What a stunning post. I look forward to trying this cashew labneh. Yum :)

Golubka25/01/2013 - 12:34 pm

This looks so so delicious, exactly what I want for lunch today :)

amy chaplin26/01/2013 - 12:09 pm

So happy to discover your site! Gorgeous photos and stunning salad.
I’ve never tried cashew cheese/labneh with just lemon juice….
Loooking forward to seeing more!

Alissa27/01/2013 - 2:16 am

Ahhh your photos are so beautiful!

[...] Lemons Coconut & Quinoa The Wooden Spoon Eat it. Kyra’s Kitchen Ola Domowa Mince & Type The First Mess The Holy Kale Healthy & Hopeful My Wholefood Romance Kale and Cardamom The Conscious Kitchen [...]

[...] Raw Vegan Cashew Labneh [...]

Christine28/01/2013 - 1:57 pm

This looks so delicious! I’m intrigued by the cashew labneh – I’m going through a bit of a ‘things you can make with cashews’ obsession at the moment. Awesome Laura!

Kate28/01/2013 - 6:28 pm

That top photo is so gorgeous. I could stare at it forever. What a delicious salad, too. Nicely done!

Nat @ The Apple Diaries28/01/2013 - 11:28 pm

Thanks First Mess for the great recipe and awesome food photography! I’m loving fabulous fermentation week. All this good bacteria is right up my alley ;)

Thanks again!

Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily29/01/2013 - 1:20 pm

I am a big believer in the benefits of fermented foods. I am in the process of making my mom’s recipe for fermented corn bread. Wish me luck! ;)

[...] the above of roasted carrots our guests arrived and the camera was stowed.) We started with her za’atar roasted carrot salad (I purchased cashew cream cheese and doubled the amount of avocado) and finished with the humble [...]

[...] the cooking side, za’atar roasted carrot salad with cashew labneh, avocado + frisée all the way and on the baking side, dark chocolate espresso scones w/ coconut cream + jam are [...]

Daria08/02/2013 - 12:41 pm

Hi, this looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! So I started with making cashew yogurt yesterday. I left in the oven with the light on and when checked it in the morning it had some dark layer on the surface. Is it the mold you are talking about? If it is, why is it happening?
I wouldn’t like to throw it away, but seems like it’s the only way(
Also, once I blended nuts with water the mixture was pretty thick. is it supposed to be so?
I’m sorry for so many questions but I’m a begineer in “nutty magic”.

Laura Wright08/02/2013 - 12:52 pm

Hi Daria,
Is the dark layer coloured at all? The general rule with mold and discolouration is: if it’s pink or black-ish grey, throw it out and start again. Perhaps try another warm area of the house? This style of fermentation is possible because of wild yeasts in the air/atmosphere around the jar. Maybe a location change would help? The mixture is rather thick from the start, so the viscosity of yours sounds about right. Hope this all helps a bit! Good luck on your next attempt–these fermentation things get easier with practice!
-L

[...] the above of roasted carrots our guests arrived and the camera was stowed.) We started with her za’atar roasted carrot salad (I purchased cashew cream cheese and doubled the amount of avocado) and finished with the humble [...]

kms10/08/2013 - 1:50 pm

Trying to make the labneh. Is it ready to be thrown into the strainer when there are air pockets throughout the mix? And when you put it in the strainer, should you try to get those air pockets out via smooshing it a bit?

Laura Wright10/08/2013 - 4:10 pm

Hi kms, Air pockets are a good sign that it’s ready to strain! You can smush them out or not, up to you :)
-L

[…] the above of roasted carrots our guests arrived and the camera was stowed.) We started with her za’atar roasted carrot salad (I purchased cashew cream cheese and doubled the amount of avocado) and finished with the humble […]

Deena kakaya26/06/2014 - 4:15 am

The marriage of that labneh and those sweet and gentle carrots looks divine x

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