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Weekend recipe: Diana Henry’s roast pumpkin, labneh, walnut gremolata and pomegranates

Laura Edwards

One of my favourite dishes. Instead of pumpkin you can use carrots or beetroots (or a mixture of the two) and you can also replace the spinach leaves with watercress if you prefer.

Serves 4

For the labneh
300g (10.oz) Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
good pinch of salt

For the pumpkin and salad
1.2kg (2lb 11oz) squash or pumpkin
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
5cm (2in) root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
juice of 1/2 small lemon
125g (4.oz) baby spinach leaves
small bunch of coriander leaves
seeds from 1/4 pomegranate

For the gremolata
35g (1.oz) walnut pieces
zest of 1 lemon (removed with a zester)
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the dressing
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
smidgen of Dijon mustard
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of caster sugar (optional)
squeeze of lemon

Make the labneh the day before you want to serve the dish. Line a sieve with a piece of muslin or a brand new J-cloth and set it over a bowl. Mix the yogurt with the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Tip into the cloth, tie it up and refrigerate. The yogurt will lose moisture over the next 24 hours, leaving a firmer, ‘cheese-like’ substance. Help it along by giving it a squeeze every so often.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Halve the squash and scoop out and discard the seeds and fibres. Cut into slices about 2cm (scant 1in) thick at the thickest part. (If you are using a long butternut squash you can halve it horizontally as well as lengthways before cutting the wedges, otherwise you could have very long slices.) Peel each slice if you want, or you can leave the skin on if you don’t mind discarding it when you are eating the dish. (Sometimes it is actually thin enough to eat.)

In a small saucepan, heat the regular olive oil, cinnamon, cayenne and ginger. Put the wedges of squash into a roasting tin and pour the spicy mixture over them, using your hands to make sure the squash gets well coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Put into the hot oven and roast for 35 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized, basting every so often. Put on to a serving dish and squeeze the lemon over.

Make the gremolata by toasting the walnuts in the oven for five minutes (keep an eye on them as they burn easily). Now simply chop everything for the gremolata together.

Take the drained labneh out of its muslin or J-cloth and gently break it up into nuggets.

Put the pomegranate molasses, mustard and salt and pepper into a small jug and whisk in the extra virgin oil. Taste and add the sugar (if using) and lemon; you really have to work on this dressing to get a good sweet-sour balance, so use your taste buds.

Using about three-quarters of the dressing, gently toss the spinach, coriander and pumpkin together in a wide shallow bowl.

Dot nuggets of labneh over this. Scatter on the gremolata and pomegranate seeds, drizzle on the rest of the dressing and serve.

Recipe taken from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry. Available here