Heirloom Lettuces with Benne Seed Dressing
© Christina Holmes

Heirloom Lettuces with Benne Seed Dressing

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN

This easy, deliciously nutty salad features a vinaigrette made from toasted benne (a.k.a. sesame) seeds.


  1. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon benne (sesame) seeds (2 1/2 ounces)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  3. 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  5. Kosher salt
  6. Freshly ground white pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  9. 2 pounds heirloom lettuces, torn into bite-size pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the benne seeds on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring once, until browned and fragrant. Transfer 1/2 cup of the seeds to a mini food processor and let cool; reserve the remaining 1 tablespoon of seeds for garnish. Add the lemon zest and juice and 1/4 cup of cold water and puree until a paste forms. With the machine on, drizzle in 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and white pepper.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the panko and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper; let cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the dressing and season lightly with salt. Sprinkle the toasted panko on top, garnish with the reserved 1 tablespoon of toasted benne seeds and serve.
Make Ahead

The dressing can be refrigerated overnight.