Light and fresh, not to mention vegan, this is a salad that’s all about contrasting textures and flavours. Leek, when roasted, is delicate and soft, working perfectly against the crunch of the chickpeas. The fennel and watercress, both fresh and crisp, cut through the buttery potato, and the roasted garlic and lemon dressing adds just the right amount of kick. If you’re needing a protein fix add poached chicken, prawns or even smoked trout.
- 440 g tin chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried
- juice and finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp sumac
- 2 tbsp extra–virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 2 slim leeks (see Note), white and pale green part only
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled, halved
- 280 g (4 small) kipfler potatoes, scrubbed, halved lengthways
- 1 baby fennel, fronds reserved
- 4 cups picked watercress
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Combine half the chickpeas, lemon rind, ½ teaspoon of sumac and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season to taste and toss until evenly coated. Spread on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Wrap the garlic cloves in foil and place on the oven tray, along with the leeks. Transfer the ingredients to the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes until the chickpeas are golden and crisp and the leek and garlic are soft and tender. Remove from the oven, unwrap the garlic and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the potato and boil gently for 14–16 minutes until tender. Drain well and allow to cool for a few minutes.
For the dressing, mash the roast garlic with a fork into a paste. Add 1½ tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of sumac. Season to taste, mix until well combined and emulsified.
When the leeks are cool enough to handle pull away the tough outer layers and slice into 2 cm-thick rounds. Finely slice the fennel and place in a bowl with the watercress. Add enough dressing to lightly coat. Divide watercress between plates then arrange the potato, raw chickpeas and cooked chickpeas on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, serve immediately.
• Slim leeks are regular length but only about 5 cm in diameter. If unavailable you can use normal leeks but they will take an extra 5–10 minutes in the oven.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by Alice Storey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Alice Storey and Georgina Larby.
Cosmopolitan milk bottle from Maxwell Williams. Finch lunch plate from Citta Design. Mulberry knife and fork from The Chef and the Cook.