Today, though, I will be eating salad.
Intellectually, I understand the value of a great sauce or dressing. Sometimes, it is a sauce that makes a dish. With a salad, fresh greens are great but the avenue it will taste will depend entirely on your dressing. It is probably no surprise that one can take classes specifically for Sauces and Marinades at George Brown College Culinary School.
While I make oodles of salads, there is only one dressing that I’ve popped into my leafy green salad repertoire. The super simple 3-2-1 dressing, where I sometimes have to remind myself which ingredient goes with the 2 and 1. (Note: Balsamic=3. Mustard=2. Maple syrup=1.)
I am trying to make life less complicated in the kitchen this year, and I am doing that partly by focusing on different dressings and sauces. This way, I can throw them on a multitude of dishes – whether as a hearty bean or grain salad, something with leafy greens, or even used in a stir-fry, etc.
The first dressing I want to highlight is this uber delicious tahini balsamic dressing that I spotted at Choosing Raw. I am loving all things tahini lately and balsamic remains one of my favourite vinegars, so I was eager to try out her dressing.
I dipped my finger into the dressing to test it out. Trust me, I licked it clean.. and another finger, just to make sure it was still so good. It passed the taste test again. I had to make sure I kept some for my salad!
The tahini provides a nutty and creamy backdrop accented by the sweet balsamic vinegar. The garlic adds a bit more complexity. The water thins it out so this isn’t heavy like oil- or mayo-based dressings. Use it anywhere you’d enjoy a creamy balsamic vinaigrette.
Its initiation into my kitchen was with a light yet hearty quinoa and chickpea salad punctated by bursts of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and slivered kale. I usually massage my kale, but here, it countered the quinoa and beans nicely with its crunch. I added the dressing just before I ate so that it would still be quite light. I assumed the quinoa could probably absorb a heck of a lot more of the dressing, but this way it was wonderful. I also made a quinoa-less salad later in the week, subbing collards for the kale which was possibly even better.
I know I could drip the dressing onto anything but I was sufficiently content with my salads for the week. Definitely let me know how you enjoy it! I bet it would be wonderful on kale chips, too!
Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with a Balsamic Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Choosing Raw
2 cups cooked quinoa (made from 1/2 cup dry quinoa with 3/4 cup water)
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups thinly sliced kale
1/2 cucumber, chopped (~2 cups)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/8 tsp garlic granules
1.5 tsp tamari (I prefer Bragg’s here) – start with less and add to taste, when I used dark soy sauce, I found the soy sauce totally overwhelmed the sauce.
1. Mix together the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, kale, cucumber and cherry tomatoes in a medium bowl.
2. In a small cup, whisk together the tahini, balsamic vinegar, water, garlic granules and tamari until smooth.
3. When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing overtop the salad. Yum!