Posts Tagged tahini

Pumpkin & Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing (Recipe Swap)

Last month, I wasn’t able to participate in the Recipe Swap, as I was driving across the country with my sister. In two years of swapping, this is the only post I’ve missed! I was bummed to miss out on all the recipe swap fun, but driving across the country isn’t exactly conducive to cooking. (On the contrary, driving across the country is conducive to eating a lot of crappy food and drinking gas station coffee.)

That being said, it’s good to be back.

There are times when Christianna emails the swap group our recipe for the month, and I’m completely inspired by it. This was not one of those times. This month’s recipe – “Russian Salad” is just plain nasty. It’s essentially a potato salad with veal and herring. (Yes, herring.) If I’m being truly honest, I got to the herring part of the recipe and decided to read no further. I am just not down with fish in my potato salad. So, I went in a totally and completely different direction. Really, the only thing my pumpkin kale salad has in common with Russian Salad is that they are both….salads. That’s it.

I blame this salad on Pinterest. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a bit of a ‘pumpkin craze’ on Pinterest as of late. It’s all pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cookies and pumpkin cocktails, etc, etc. I hate it! You see, I love pumpkin. I love it in curries and soups and stews. I love pumpkin in salads, gratins, and casseroles. Pumpkin is an amazingly flavorful and versatile fruit. And, sure, I love pumpkin pie as much as the next person, I just happen to believe that pumpkin does not belong in coffee. ;)

So, this is my take on the Russian salad, as well as my official submission to the great pumpkin craze. I hope you like it.

Makes 6-8 servings

Salad ingredients:
1 small heirloom pumpkin (or 1/2 of a large pumpkin)
2 heaping cups of chopped lacinato kale
2 heaping cups of roughly chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup candied pecans*
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Tahini dressing:
2 tablespoons sesame tahini paste
2 small cloves of garlic
the juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon water (more, if needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper

*You could easily make your own spiced or candied pecans, or use plain pecans. I happened upon some candied pecans at Trader Joe’s that I thought were quite tasty in this salad.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat.

Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then cut each half in 2 or 3 pieces (whatever is easiest to handle). Using your knife, carefully remove the pumpkin skin from each segment. Once the skin is removed, chop the pumpkin into 1″ cubes. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to coat. Spread the pumpkin pieces into an even layer on the baking sheet, and roast until fork tender, but firm (about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

While the pumpkin is cooling, mix the dressing together. Stir together tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. The mixture will thicken and turn a lighter shade. Begin adding water, a little at a time. Stir until the mixture is light and creamy, and the desired thickness. Stir in yogurt and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the chopped lettuce and kale. Toss with tahini dressing, and gently mix in the pumpkin cubes, pecans, and minced parsley. Toss with a bit more tahini dressing, until coated. Taste, and season with extra salt & pepper, if needed.

Tahini Goddess Dressing

The other day, I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks – Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it – as I was desperate for some dinner inspiration. As I was perusing the book, I happened upon an entry entitled “Tahini Goddess Dressing“. I don’t know why I’d never noticed the recipe before (I’ve flipped through the book plenty of times) but there it was, staring me in the face: a recipe for my all time favorite salad dressing. Amazing!

You see, I’ve been living on Trader Joe’s brand Goddess Dressing for YEARS. I don’t even remember when I discovered the stuff, but its been a pantry staple in my household for ages. Its vegan, inexpensive, and like no other salad dressing I’ve ever eaten. (Annie’s also makes a version of the dressing, which I also love, but the TJ’s brand is cheaper.)

So, why then, had it never occurred to me to make my own goddess dressing?

I have no idea.

I’d simply been content to buy it all these years, and never thought to make my own. But all of the sudden, it was as plain as day, staring up at me from the pages of the book. After a quick scan of the recipe and ingredient list, I was floored. Not only was the dressing remarkably easy to make, but alas, I had every single ingredient on hand. If that’s not fate, I don’t know what is.

I quickly set about making my all time favorite dressing, and then promptly devoured the dressing over a lovely arugula salad. The homemade version didn’t taste exactly like the bottled dressing, but the flavors were strikingly similar. The homemade dressing was bright and tangy, and surprisingly creamy for not having an ounce of anything remotely related to cream (that’s the magic of tahini!). Really, it just tasted like a fresh (and less processed) version of the bottled dressing. And that, my friends, is a very good thing.

So, here is my take on the best salad dressing in the whole wide world. I hope you find as much joy in it as I did!

Tahini Goddess Dressing
(Adapted from Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it)

2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sesame tahini
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup of water (possibly more)
2 tsp very finely chopped fresh parsley

The original instructions say to grind the garlic & salt in a mortar and pestle (until they form a paste) and then add in all the other ingredients except the water into the mortar and pestle until just combined. My mortar and pestle is quite small, so I opted to use the food processor for this recipe.

Using a food processor or blender, blend garlic, salt, tahini, soy sauce, vinegar and honey together. Blend until a smooth puree forms. Once smooth, remove from food processor and stir in chopped parsley. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary (I added in a bit more soy sauce). Add water in teaspoon, by teaspoon until the dressing reaches desired consistency.

Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to a week. (Note: I noticed that the dressing tends to thicken after refrigeration, so I add a bit more water before using it.)