Use any crunchy salad leaves you like here, but I particularly love the combination of Gem lettuce and red chicory for the contrast in colour and between the sweeter and more bitter leaves. I love this dressing, so this recipe makes lots – you’ll have extra. Use it as a dip, in a lunch wrap the next day, on roasted cauliflower and broccoli, drizzled over grilled sweet potatoes or tossed through a pasta salad. The croutons are a great way to use up bread that is going stale.
Photography: Lizzie Mayson
3 tbsp ghee or olive oil
400g tin of white beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried thyme or rosemary
1 handful of walnuts or pecans
1 handful of bread, cut into 1cm chunks
1 Little Gem lettuce
1 head of red chicory or another Little Gem lettuce
Sea salt and black pepper
For the tahini dressing makes extra
2 anchovy fillets (from a jar or tin)
2 tbsp tahini (stirred well in the the jar first)
1 garlic clove
0.5 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 handful of grated Parmesan or other hard cheese, plus extra to serve
Preheat the oven to fan 220°C/gas mark 9, then place 1½ tablespoons of the ghee in a large roasting tray and pop in the oven to heat up. Meanwhile, dry the beans well in a tea towel to ensure they don’t spit in the hot ghee.
Once the tray is hot, remove from the oven and toss the beans in the melted ghee, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper and the dried herbs, then spread out in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes. Add the rest of ghee and the nuts and bread chunks, toss everything together well and spread out again into a single layer, then pop back in the oven to cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and let the roasted bean mixture cool for 10 minutes, if you’ve got time, as it will crisp up more as it cools.
Meanwhile, add the dressing ingredients to the small bowl of a food processor, along with about 4 tablespoons of water, then blitz to combine. Season with salt and pepper and add 1–2 tablespoons of water if the dressing needs thinning down.
Slice off the ends of the lettuces and separate the leaves, then wash and dry really well so that the dressing doesn’t slide off the leaves. Arrange haphazardly on a big serving platter.
Scatter the roasted bean mixture over the leaves, drizzle over half of the dressing and sprinkle with extra grated cheese.
If Mel’s food does one thing, it’ll make you feel good. Fortunately, it does so much more than that too. It’s delicious, simple and often just uses the kinds of ingredients you’ll have lying around in the cupboard – no faff, and exactly what you want from a cookbook. EXTRACTED FROM FEEL GOOD BY MELISSA HEMSLEY (EBURY PRESS, £22) Photography by Lizzie Mayson.
— cook’s notes
To make this plant-based, swap the anchovies for 1 teaspoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce or 1 teaspoon of miso paste plus2 teaspoons of pickling liquid from a jar of capers. Instead of cheese, use 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast, and roast the beans in olive oil.