Persian soft herb salad with fresh figs & labneh

Persian soft herb salad with fresh figs & labneh

By
From
New Feast
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Alan Benson

One of the great pleasures of our travels around Iran a few years ago was the way each and every meal began with a basket of fresh herbs – called sabzi – along with soft white cheese and warm flatbread. It’s a habit that we’ve continued to this day, as it’s a brilliant appetite-sharpening way to begin any meal. This refreshing salad is really just a more refined variation on the sabzi theme: it’s all about the freshness of the herbs and leaves that you choose – and feel free to experiment with your own selection. Similarly, try replacing the figs with cherries, white peaches or nectarines, when they are in season. Eat, Persian-style, with griddled flatbreads or as an accompaniment to rich or filling dishes.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
12 red witlof leaves, bases trimmed
1 cup watercress leaves and flowers
1/3 cup chervil leaves
1/3 cup snow pea tendrils
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup thai or purple basil leaves
1/4 cup chocolate mint leaves
4 firm, but ripe, figs, peeled and quartered
3 french cocktail radishes, halved lengthways
200g Labneh, strained for 12 hours
edible flowers, such as borage, or nasturtiums, to garnish

Hazelnut dressing

Quantity Ingredient
50ml hazelnut oil
a few drops sesame oil
50ml olive oil
30ml champagne or good-quality white wine vinegar
50ml water
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. To make the dressing, tip the oils into a bowl and whisk in the vinegar, then the water. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. For the salad, combine all the ingredients, except the labneh, in a serving bowl. Lightly season with salt and pepper and pour in as much dressing as required. Use your hands to mix everything together gently. Add blobs of labneh and flowers, if using, and serve.
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