Anything-Goes Kale Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

I’m attempting to resume better routines now that the chaos surrounding cookbooks has subsided. Taste testing all day can become monotonous, and the typical breakfast, lunch, and supper schedule quickly becomes a thing of the past.

When your stomach is already full and you’re looking down at yet another muffin, I know you think it sounds fantastic. Usually at that point, I launch into a rant about the subjectivity of flavor and yearn to curl up on the sand with some flashcards for multiplication. With math, at least, you always get the appropriate response.

I made a vow to get more sleep and eat a large green salad every day, and as long as the ingredients are available, I’ve been sticking to my salad resolution. The two essential components are homemade salad dressing and pre-washed greens. It’s also a good idea to have cooked grains on hand. They increase weight and adhesiveness.

For those who are bored of salads, I thought I would share my favorite combination today. It starts with a base of warmed, leftover cooked grains (I prefer long-grain brown rice and farro, but quinoa is also fantastic) and kale that has been massaged, as well as a variety of scatted vegetables from the vegetable drawer.

The pièce de résistance is a creamy, intensely delicious lime, jalapeo, and cilantro dressing made with sour tahini. If you’re packing your lunch, this salad would keep well until noon and is simple to make at home. Salute to salads!

Also read: Thai Mango Salad with Peanut Dressing


Per salad

  • ½ medium bunch kale, preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, or several handfuls of your favorite greens
  • 1 cup leftover cooked grains (I love brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, farro or wheat berries…)
  • 2 carrots, sliced into long ribbons with a julienne peeler or regular veggie peeler
  • 1 radish, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds, toasted
  • More ideas: halved cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, chopped bell pepper, whatever else strikes your fancy…

Green tahini dressing (yields about ¾ cup, so you’ll have plenty for future salads)

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup lime juice (about 3 to 4 medium limes)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 ½ teaspoons honey or maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional for extra heat


  1. To prepare the kale (skip this step if you’re using any other kind of fresh green), first use a sharp chef’s knife to remove the center ribs from the kale, then discard the ribs. Chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces. Then, sprinkle the kale lightly with salt, and massage the kale by scrunching handfuls at a time until the kale is darker in color and fragrant. This step reduces the bitterness in the kale and improves its texture.
  2. In a bowl, combine the prepared kale, leftover grains (I like to warm mine a bit in the microwave first), carrot, radishes, toasted pepitas, and/or your toppings of choice.
  3. To make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste, and blend in additional salt if the dressing needs a little more oomph. If you’d like spicier dressing, blend in a pinch of red pepper flakes. If the dressing is too bold for your liking, dilute it with a little more olive oil and blend again.
  4. Drizzle the green tahini dressing generously over the salad (you’ll still have plenty leftover) and enjoy.