This is modeled after an amazing salad I had the other night at DA/BA in Hudson, N.Y. The dressing was so creamy and delicious it actually had me lusting after a bowlful of raw kale. And if you know my history with vegetables, you know that’s a minor miracle.
What made this salad particularly great was the chefs at DA/BA allowed the kale and dressing proper time to mix and mingle. Kale in the raw can be tough, coarse, and not the easiest thing to get down the hatch. My favorite way to make use of it is baking it into kale chips or blending it with ginger and a carrot into a big glass of green juice. As I moaned my way through DA/BA’s succulent salad the other night, I knew there was a pretty good chance I could replicate the dressing at home. I’ve made tahini dressing before but this one had a slight, heat-infused aftertaste so I dug out a tube of Harissa (Middle Eastern chili paste) from the cupboard and got busy. The Harissa gave the dressing a slightly red glow. DA/BA’s dressing was snow white so how it got the heat remains a mystery….all I know is, I came close. I’m going to sit down to a big kale salad today and finish it with abandon.
Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. It’s similar in theory to peanut butter, only more liquidy. All the ingredients in the dressing I devised to something positive for your health and digestion…while tasting good. I LOVE these kinds of recipes. If you don’t have any, you’ll need to invest in a bottle of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, a flavor enhancer that looks and tastes like soy sauce, only it’s loaded with amino acids that help digestion. Ditto for the apple cider vinegar. Because of all the sour and astringent ingredients in the dressing, I counter-balanced it a bit by adding my all-time favorite secret weapon – vanilla. Sounds odd but it works and gives it a mellower undertone. Tahini is pretty common nowadays and most supermarkets carry it. If you have a Middle Eastern grocer in your neighborhood, you’ll easily find good Tahini and Harissa. If not, use whatever chili paste or powder you can find.
Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing (makes about a cup of dressing)
1 large bunch of kale
1/2 cup Tahini
About 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar (preferably raw and unfiltered)
Juice of 1 lemon, plus the zest
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. Harissa (a little more if you enjoy serious heat)
Small amount of hot water (half a cup or less) for mixing purposes
Tear kale leaves off the stalks into bite-sized pieces and place in large rectangular baking dish or a similar shaped plastic container.
Add the first six dressing ingredients into a small glass mixing bowl and mix vigorously with a wire wisk. The acids from the aminos, vinegar, and lemon will cause the Tahini to bind up and become very thick – this is normal – just mix as thoroughly as you can. To thin the dressing out to a creamy liquid, add hot water, a few tablespoons at a time until proper consistency is achieved.
Drizzle dressing over kale leaves and mix thoroughly so each leaf is coated. Marinate at least overnight or for 24 hours before eating so the leaves will soften. It’s important to lay the salad in a flat container for even dressing distribution. If it’s piled into a bowl, the dressing will sift to the bottom.
Optional: Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, sliced dates, or any combination thereof