Lemon-tahini dressing is nothing new under the plant-based sun- it’s been something of a vegan food cliche for years. It’s my all-time favorite salad dressing, but I really don’t like a lot of recipes for it that are on the internet. You have to get a very specific balance of flavors here.
If you use a recipe with the right ingredient proportions, this dressing is super creamy but also savory and sharp in all the right ways. It’s great to make salads full-flavored and satisfying without dairy or eggs.
This dressing is based off of tahina sauce, which comes from Arabic culinary traditions. Tahina sauce is a little thinner, has some ingredient differences and can be served warm, and it’s delicious if you need a sauce to cook a hearty entree in (for a good tahina sauce recipe, check out the incredible Gaza Kitchen cookbook by Leila El-Haddad.) This dressing, on the other hand, can’t be served warm (though unfortunately I’ve seen restaurants try), but is better for fresh salads. Like traditional tahina sauce, you can absolutely serve this on falafel.
Yield: roughly 1 cup of dressing
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste- found most affordably at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup lemon juice (roughly one large lemon)
2-3 cloves garlic
5 tsp tamari or soy sauce
4 tsp red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp agave or sweetener of choice (but for the love of god not stevia)
1 Tbsp water
1. Blend all ingredients
Note that you may need to add more water after refrigerating this or after letting it sit out, as it tends to thicken.
My favorite salad combo to serve this with, besides falafel salad:
This is so easy to make it’s almost embarrassing, but it’s been my favorite summer salad and one of my favorite all-year-round side dishes since I was a kid.
It’s perfect as a picnic side and even more perfect for when you have to throw something together at the last minute. It’s fresh, full-flavored and offers a decent amount of protein, and people always remark about how much they love it.
Yield: 8 Cups
4 cups cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained and thoroughly rinsed)
2 cups corn (frozen is fine)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Optional: parsely or cilantro to garnish
Mix all ingredients together, taste, and adjust by adding a little more salt, pepper, olive oil or balsamic vinegar if you like
Let sit for 20 minutes to overnight
Serve cold, garnished with parsley or cilantro if desired
This is the #1 dish I make most often throughout the warm months of the year. I keep waiting to get sick of them, but I never do. They’re great as an appetizer, a light lunch, a way to impress guests or as an addition to a summer picnic or potluck. Essentially you’re eating a salad- you’re getting all the beautiful colors and nutrients and all the crunch of those fresh veggies- but they are about a thousand times more satisfying and fun.
Called gỏi cuốn and originally hailing from Vietnam, this dish is a classic. This version of the sauce deviates a bit from the traditional version in order to better balance the lack of animals in the rolls, but it’s quick and easy to throw together.
Above all, these rolls are very flexible. The mint and basil are pretty key, butif you don’t have one or a few of the other veggies on hand, it’s no problem. You ideally want all of those different colors and textures and nutrients, but even in the picture above you can see that I made the rolls without lettuce, bean sprouts or carrots, and it was fine. Even if you don’t have the rice noodles on hand, you can do an all-veggie version that’s still good. Likewise, if you want to throw in other veggies, strips of grilled tofu, sautéed oyster mushrooms, or even kimchi or green papaya salad for some cross-cultural fusion, the world is your proverbial oyster.
Yield: 6 large summer rolls
6 circular rice paper wrappers*
Rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles*
2 carrots, julienned or peeled into ribbons
1/3 red cabbage, sliced into thin strips
3 large romaine lettuce leaves, cut down the middle lengthwise and then in half
½ cucumber, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 handful cilantro
1 handful Thai basil (regular basil will work ok if you can’t get Thai basil)
1 handful fresh mint
2 handfuls rinsed bean sprouts, optional
large, shallow bowl of warm water
½ cup + 2 Tbsp crunchy or creamy peanut butter**
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
juice and pulp of one lime
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp ginger
1-3 Tbsp sambal oelek or Sriracha, depending on how much you like spice
1.5 Tbsp agave, maple syrup or date paste
1.5 Tbsp hoisin sauce (make sure it’s vegan and/or gluten-free if that’s important to you)
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
*These can be found at International and Asian grocery stores, most Whole Foods stores (albeit for five times the price), or can be bought online
** Most standard peanut butter has added sugar/sweetener in it, and most “natural” peanut butter does not (check your labels to make sure.) No judgment if you’re not using the natural stuff, but in that case you may not need to add as much agave/maple syrup/date paste to your sauce. Hold off on adding them at first and then taste your sauce and add them in only if you want additional sweetness.
In a blender or with a handheld immersion blender, blend the garlic and ginger together with the lime juice and tamari. Add in the sambal/Sriracha, sweetener, hoisin sauce and sesame oil and blend until smooth. Then add the peanut butter and blend or whisk until fully incorporated
Make sure to have all of your prepped ingredients ready and in reach. Soak a rice paper wrapper in warm water for about five seconds. Lay it flat on a large cutting board
Carefully layer your ingredients on the lower third of the wrapper, leaving about an inch of empty wrapper on both sides and below
Roll as shown here. It takes a little bit of practice, but even if at first they come out looking a little wackadoo at first, they’ll still taste great.
NOTE- different brands of rice paper wrappers will need a little more or less time to soak in the water before they’re pliable, so if you try one and it’s too stiff or too mushy, take note and adjust as you go
Serve them immediately, dunk them in sauce and enjoy!