7 ratings

Barbecued Little Gems With Cucumber, White Beans, and Tahini

Recipe excerpted from ‘Gather: Everyday Seasonal Food from a Year in Our Landscapes’ by Gill Meller

I adore cooking lettuce. Sometimes, I like to wilt it with chicken stock and plenty of black pepper, parsley, and lovage. Sometimes, I fry wedges of small lettuce in butter and olive oil, with salty anchovies and lots of garlic, until its sugars caramelize, then I serve it with heaps of grated Parmesan cheese. And soup, I make soup a lot with lettuce. But, with their close, tight leaves, little gem lettuces are also perfect for cooking on the barbecue or chargrilling. You want to get the embers good and hot, to give some real color to the cut face of the lettuce. The contrast in this warm salad comes from the fresh, cool crunch of cucumber. It’s all brought together with a beautiful, sort-of dressing, made from white beans, yogurt, and tahini.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Gather: Everyday Seasonal Food from a Year in Our Landscapes by Gill Meller. Click here to purchase your own copy.


For the Barbecued Little Gems With Cucumber, White Beans, and Tahini

  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1 (14-ounce) Can white beans, such as cannellini or butter beans
  • 1 Lemon juiced, and zested
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 4 Tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 Little gem lettuces, halved, washed, and patted dry
  • 1 Medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into half-inch slices
  • 1 Small bunch of chives, finely chopped and a few left whole
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


For the Barbecued Little Gems With Cucumber, White Beans, and Tahini

Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, then add the garlic. Fry for 25 to 30 seconds, until the garlic begins to soften, then add the white beans and lemon zest. Stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the white beans are warmed through. Now, stir in the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and parsley, along with 2 to 3 Tbsp of water. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until spoonable. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. Remove the pan from the heat.

Light your barbecue. Season the little gem halves with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 Tbsp of the oil. When your barbecue coals are glowing nice and hot, lay your little gem lettuce, cut-side down, onto the grill. Grill the lettuce for 5 to 10 minutes on each side—how long will depend upon the heat of your coals, but aim for the lettuce halves to soften, take on some color, and caramelize; a little charring improves the dish. (Alternatively, cook on a preheated grill pan.) When the lettuce halves are ready, place them on a large serving platter cut-side up.

Put the bean and tahini dressing back on the heat to warm through, and give it a final stir. Spoon it over the lettuce, making sure it trickles through and around the layers of leaves. Scatter over the prepared cucumber, sprinkle with the chopped chives, strew over the whole chives, then drizzle over the remaining olive oil and season everything with salt and pepper. Serve the salad immediately.