1 cup (235g) mayonnaise (homemade or Best Foods)
½ cup (125g) sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
¼ cup (15g) finely chopped chives
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (145g) sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet (dulce) smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
a pinch each flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1½–2 heads medium to large cos or iceberg lettuce
hot sauce (I love using Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce)

I have always been a massive fan of cold, crunchy lettuce slathered with liberal amounts of ranch dressing. For a long time our go-to at Depot was iceberg but, recently, when the ’bergs weren’t in great shape, we switched to romaine/cos. Anyway, it was at Depot that I stumbled upon Vik, one of our managers, having a late-night munch after service, and I noticed that he was eating cos with ranch and had also dribbled hot sauce on top. I tried a bit, and it was quite a revelation. Along with the fresh crunch of the lettuce, the cold, creamy dressing contrasts with the sting and heat of the hot sauce – bloody brilliant.

I thought about it a bit more and believed I could elevate this humble salad by adding one more layer of texture in the form of some slightly sweet and spicy toasted sunflower seeds. I still get blown away by the depth of flavour in some of the most uncomplicated dishes. This salad adds so much freshness to any rich protein situation, and is nearly compulsory at any barbecue.

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2.Take a medium bowl and add all the ingredients except for the salt and pepper.
3.Mix thoroughly, then season to taste.
4.Refrigerate until required.
6.Place all the ingredients in a suitably-sized bowl and mix thoroughly.
7.Place a frying pan over medium heat.
8.Once hot, add the seeds and keep moving them around constantly until they start to caramelise.
9.Remove the pan from the heat and spread the seeds out onto a large plate or tray to cool.
10.Once cooled completely, pour into an airtight jar and secure the lid tightly.
11.Use as you feel, with any ideas you may have.
13.To serve, cut the cos lengthways into wedges and place them on a platter.
14.Spoon over liberal amounts of ranch dressing and drizzle with hot sauce to your heat requirements.
15.I tend to go lighter on the hot sauce, then just leave the bottle nearby for anyone who wants to turn the heat volume up.
16.Finish by sprinkling over the seeds. Serve now.

Recipes extracted from
Eat Up New Zealand: The
Bach Edition by Al Brown,
photography by Josh
Griggs, published by Allen
& Unwin NZ, RRP $49.99.