A fresh take on beans on toast.
A recipe for harissa dressed beans and homemade labneh on a thick, hot slice of toast.
As previously advertised, instead of sharing all three recipes each month with my ingredient essay, I’m going to send them out through the month - still focusing on a different ingredient every month, but in a way that is much easier for my new workload as I’ve taken on a lot more recipe ghostwriting clients than I had when I first started this newsletter almost two years (!) ago.
This month we’re focusing on harissa, the punchy North African red chilli paste that is perfect for adding complex, buildable heat to a whole host of recipes. Find out more about it and get the recipe for my Beef & Harissa Stew here, and paid subscribers can find the recipe for my speedy Harissa & Tomato Soup here.
Originally destined for my cookbook One Pan Pescatarian (which in spite of the fishy name is in fact 1/3 vegetarian recipes, 1/3 vegan recipes, and only 1/3 fish) it never made the cut because I never got around to writing down the exact measurements of something I often threw together for lunch back in the day when I lived in London and could easily walk to Middle Eastern grocers - meaning I kept tubs of labneh in the fridge, and did not have to make it myself.
If this is you too, well brilliant, lunch is only minutes away. If, however you’re like me and to eat labneh - a wondrously thick, spreadable cheese-like yogurt - you have to make it first, I promise you as long as you remember to start it the day before, it is an absolute doddle.
Simply place a sieve over a jug, and line it with cheesecloth (though I’ve also successfully made thick, cheese-like labneh in a pair of clean tights!) and hold it in place with a rubber band. Fill with natural yogurt (a mix of natural and goat yogurt is also good) and stir in a generous pinch of salt. Then, leave it in the fridge to drain overnight. The yogurt will become thick and spreadable, perfect for toast (evo and za’atar is good on top for a speedy snack!)
Congratulations, you’ve made labneh!
But, don’t throw away the whey, the liquid that has gathered in the bottom of the jug, whatever you do. I have two favourite uses for it. If I have lamb chops to hand, I combine it with sea salt, garlic, a sliced shallot and some finely chopped rosemary to make the frankly incredible Whey-brined Lamb Chops (pg 115) in fellow Substacker and local to me food writer's excellent second cookbook The Joyful Home Cook. Honestly, they're some of the best chops I've ever made every single time, and I'm excited for dinner because they're what are in the fridge brining right now.
If I don’t have lamb to hand, I throw it into my bread dough as it makes my loaves softer, last longer, and adds a certain something better people just can’t quite put their fingers on.
Now, all you have to do is dress the beans (I usually have canned, but jarred are better in such a simple preparation like this where the quality of the ingredients equals the quality of the flavour) and possibly garnish your toast with a little parsley. I didn’t at lunch today as all I’ve got in the fridge at the moment is a tonne of fresh mint. Which, now I write this, I realise would have been rather delicious, too.
Harissa Dressed Beans on Labneh Toast
Serves: 2, Preparation time: 5 minutes