Alison Roman’s easy feast for Easter

Entertaining is off the menu this Easter, but you can still make a special meal in isolation. Here are four easy courses from the queen of no-frills food

One-pot chicken with dates and caramelised lemon (pictured above)
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4–6

1.8kg whole chicken, or 1.25kg bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, cut into thick slices crossways, seeds removed
2 shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
4–6 medjool dates, pitted
4 thyme or oregano sprigs, plus extra for serving
2 tsp ground urfa chilli or 1 tsp chilli flakes
Flaky salt

Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/425F/gas 7, and season the chicken all over.

Put two tablespoons of oil in a large casserole dish over a medium–high heat. Add the chicken to the pot breast side up and press lightly, so the skin comes into even contact with the bottom of the pot. Brown the legs and render the excess fat. (If using thighs or legs, sear them skin side down.)

Cook until the chicken is nice and browned, about five to eight minutes. Add the lemon, making sure the slices come into contact with the bottom of the pot, and the shallots. Cook until lightly caramelised – about two minutes.

Add the dates, herbs and 250ml water. Sprinkle the chicken with the chilli and put the lid on. Transfer to the oven and roast until the dates are plump, the lemon slices are jammy, and the chicken is almost but not totally cooked through, 20–25 minutes.

Remove the lid and drizzle the chicken with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Return to the oven, and roast until the top of the chicken is a glistening golden brown and the liquid is reduced by a half – another 20–30 minutes, depending on whether you’re using parts or a whole bird.

Rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve alongside the shallots, lemon slices and dates, with some more herbs and flaky salt sprinkled over.

Creamy sesame turmeric dip

Prep 5 min
Cook 5 min
Serves 6

225g cream cheese or ricotta, preferably at room temperature
185g soured cream or labneh
60g tahini
2 tbsp water
Salt and black pepper
60ml olive oil
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Flaky salt

Combine the cream cheese, soured cream, tahini and water in a food processor and pulse until well blended and creamy. Alternatively, use a fork or spoon; there might just be a few lumps, which is fine. Season.

Heat the olive oil and sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the sesame seeds are toasted and fragrant, about two to three minutes. Add the turmeric and remove from the heat.

Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a serving bowl and top with the sesame- turmeric oil. Finish with flaky salt and more pepper before serving.

Mustardy green beans with anchovied walnuts

Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4–6

125g raw shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped
125ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
750g green beans, trimmed
1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
3 tbsp finely chopped dill

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/450F/gas 8, or heat a barbecue grill to medium–high.

Put the walnuts and 60ml of the olive oil in a medium pot over a medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the walnuts are toasted – two to three minutes. Remove from the heat and add the anchovies and garlic, swirling to dissolve the anchovy. Set aside.

Put the beans and lemon on a baking tray. Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, and season with salt and pepper. Roast (or grill), tossing once or twice, until the beans and lemon start to char in spots – 12–15 minutes (or eight–10 minutes if grilling).

Combine the mustard, vinegar and remaining 60ml olive oil in a large bowl and season. Add the bean mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the walnut mixture and dill.

Tiny, salty, chocolatey cookies

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Makes 24

90g unsalted butter
310g icing sugar
90g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
225g chocolate (at least 67% cocoa solids), chopped
60g finely chopped hazelnuts, almonds, pistachio nuts, pecans or walnuts (optional)
Flaky salt

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Line two trays with baking paper. Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat, until starting to foam and brown – about three to four minutes. Stir the butter from time to time so that the solids don’t stick to the bottom. Leave to cool.

Whisk the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl, until combined. If you want to, you can sift them all first.

Using a spatula, mix in the egg whites, whole egg and browned butter, stirring until you have a smoothish mixture – any small lumps are fine – followed by the chocolate and any nuts you want to add.

Using a spoon, drop 2.5cm blobs of the batter on to the baking trays, about 5 cm apart. Take care, as they spread a lot. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake until the cookies have flattened considerably and look baked through and a bit wrinkled – about six to eight minutes. Let them cool before eating, so they can firm up.