My goal is to eat at least one salad every day. It’s a good way to pack in some nutrient-dense raw vegetables. I don’t always meet that goal, and some times of year it’s harder than others. When it’s sunny out and fresh produce abounds, no problem. When the ground is covered in a layer of snow, it can be a little more difficult to get motivated for something cold on my plate.
I’ve found that if I have a hearty salad with something substantive and/or a warm element on top, it’s a lot easier to pack in all of those fresh green vegetables as well.
Lately I’ve been into kale and wheat berry salads with lemon tahini dressing. The salad base is a mixture of kale and green leaf lettuce. I like to vary the textures to keep things interesting bite by bite. It also includes grated carrot, bell pepper, and celery. (If you’re not a kale fan, you can easily swap out some or all of it for more green leaf lettuce instead.)
While I’m usually all about the cashew dressing, lately I’ve been opting for lemon tahini dressing instead. No blender is involved, which means clean up is a breeze. Depending on my needs, I can make a little or a lot.
Nutty tahini and lemon just go together. They balance each other so simply – a bit of nuttiness and a bit of sour. And then all you need is a pinch of salt and water until it has the consistency of dressing.
The thing with tahini dressing, though, is that there’s always some adjusting involved. First off, tahini varies by brand. Some are runny, and some are dry. You may or may not buy a brand that doesn’t require stirring. If stirring is required, and you didn’t stir well, there may be a layer of oil on top and crusty dregs at the bottom of the jar. Depending on the runniness of your brand, the amount of water you’ll need in the dressing will vary.
Also, if I’m using tahini as a sauce or on a lighter green, I’ll probably go for slightly less lemon juice than if I want it to hold up to a bold flavor like kale. So as with all cooking, it’s best to taste as you go and adjust based on your needs and preferences.
For added protein and staying power, wheat berries are added to the mix. Wheat berries don’t get a lot of press, but they’re a hearty and filling grain. I don’t really care for small grains or pseudo-grains. I want something that I can chew. So brown rice, barley, and wheat berries get more love from me than quinoa or millet. For this recipe, I used hard red spring wheat berries. If you don’t have wheat berries, feel free to use barley or brown rice instead. You’ll just need to adjust the water & cooking time to fit your particular choice.
To move this salad even more into the entrée category, add roasted chickpeas, baked tofu, or vegan chik’n. When the temperatures are right, this salad goes particularly well as a side for grilled tofu with lemon & rosemary.
By the way, this salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days, as long as you keep the lemon tahini dressing in a separate container. I also like to add this salad to wraps with the plant protein of my choosing and a drizzle of lemon tahini dressing inside.
Want more ideas for ways to use lemon tahini dressing? Check out this recipe for baked tofu & kale chip Buddha bowls.
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