Charred gem salad with tahini caesar dressing
Caesar salad: the clean crunch of cos lettuce, the serious hit of flavour from the garlic-kissed dressing, the burnished goldenbrown of a crouton. This version is a bit different: a quick char brings sweetness to the little lettuces, and tahini and garlic give a little punch to a dressing I make on repeat.
Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6. Cut the lettuces in half lengthways, and then again into quarters.
Tear the bread into bite-size pieces, put on to a baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper, then put into the oven to toast until lightly golden – about five to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, griddle the little gems for a couple of minutes on each side, until deep char marks form and they collapse a little. Lay the charred lettuces on a platter, season with a little salt and set aside.
Next, make the dressing: finely grate the garlic into a food processor, add all the other ingredients with six tablespoons of water, and blitz smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon, salt, pepper and soy to taste.
When the croutons are ready, take them out of the oven and sprinkle with the lemon zest and some parmesan, then put them back in the oven for another minute or two.
To serve, toss the charred lettuce in a few tablespoons of the dressing, then put it on to a platter, scatter with the croutons and grate over the rest of the parmesan. Serve with some more dressing and a good grind of black pepper.