This recipe was inspired by my mom -she’s not vegetarian but meat doesn’t always agree with her so she often looks for unique vegetable recipes. I love this one because it’s inspired by a big roast that serves as the centerpiece of your table. It can certainly be eaten as a side but you could also serve it as the main “roast” for 2-3 people. When I recipe tested this I ate about half for dinner 😉

Now you may be asking yourself, why do I have to go through the trouble of making labneh – can’t I just use Greek yogurt straight out of the tub? Well you could, but it’s going to make things pretty soggy. Taking the couple extra steps of preparing the labneh makes for a much more solid, cheesy base for the crispy romanesco. It’s so so worth it, trust me.

One thing I experimented with when making the labneh was if I absolutely had to use cheesecloth. Turns out I didn’t! I just used a fine mesh strainer suspended over a bowl and it worked like a charm. Considering most people have a fine mesh strainer but not everyone has cheesecloth, I’m looking at this as a real win and hopefully even more incentive for you to try making it.

If you are looking to use this as a side, I’d suggest some of my richer dishes. The tartness of the labneh and the pungent curry oil will help cut through some of that richness. Here are some examples:

Curry Whole-Roasted Romanesco with Labneh

This is one stunner of a side dish or a great vegetarian main dish for two people. I've even tested it on non-curry fans and it's a winner. I've stuck with milder spices but if you want to kick it up a notch you can certainly reach for more potent seasonings.
Course Dinner, lunch, Side Dish
Servings 8 people as a side dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large head of Romanesco
  • 1 cup whole milk greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 tbsp, divided
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Goan masala (or curry powder)
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger or ginger powder
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Instructions
 

  • To prepare labneh, whisk yogurt and 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl and scrape into a fine mesh strainer. Position strainer over a bowl and cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. (Discard the liquid.)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with foil
  • Remove the outer leaves of romanesco and place, stem-side down, on the prepared pan. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 tbsp Goan masala. Roast until golden brown and a skewer easily passes through to the center, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • While the romanesco cooks, combine the remaining 1/4 cup oil, garlic, Goan masala (or curry powder), ginger, turmeric, smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a small heatproof bowl.
  • Spread the labneh on a serving platter. Cut the romanesco into 8 wedges and arrange on the labneh or serve whole for a more dramatic effect. Drizzle with the curry oil. Roughly chop mint and sprinkle on top.
Keyword curry, easy side dish, labneh, Romanesco, unique side dish