Now that the cookbook insanity has calmed down, I’m trying to get back to better habits. Taste testing all day can be tiresome, and the regular breakfast/lunch/dinner routine flies out the window pretty fast.
I know, you think it sounds so great, until your belly is full and you’re staring down yet another muffin. That’s usually when I go on a tirade about the subjectivity of flavor and want to sit on the beach with some multiplication flash cards. At least you always get the right answer with math.
I’ve resolved to get more sleep and eat a big green salad every day, and I’ve been keeping my salad resolution as long as the supplies are ready. Pre-washed greens and homemade salad dressing are the two key ingredients. Leftover cooked grains are great to have on hand, too. They add bulk and sticking power.
Today, I thought I’d share my favorite combination, for those who are in a salad rut. It starts with a base of massaged kale and warmed, leftover cooked grains (I’m partial to long-grain brown rice and farro, but quinoa is great, too), and random veggies from the vegetable drawer.
The kicker is a super flavorful lime, jalapeño and cilantro dressing, which is creamy, thanks to some tangy tahini. This salad would keep great until lunchtime, if you’re packing your lunch, and it’s also easy to throw together at home. Hooray for salads!
Anything-Goes Kale Salad with Green Tahini Dressing
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 salad 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: American
This super versatile kale salad features an amazing tahini dressing. Just add massaged kale, leftover cooked grains and veggies from your crisper drawer. Recipe yields 1 hearty meal-sized salad, so multiply as necessary.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drizzle the green tahini dressing generously over the salad (you’ll still have plenty leftover) and enjoy.
Make it gluten free: Be sure to use a gluten-free option like rice or quinoa.
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup instead of honey.
Storage suggestions: This dressing keeps well, refrigerated, for about 1 week.
Sasha @ Eat Love Eat
Love the outdoor photos – what stunning colour! And that dressing looks incredible! So vibrant. This sounds like such a simple, yet gorgeous salad, perfect for those days when you don’t know what to pack for lunch. Oh and I totally get you about the subjectivity of flavour. There’s a certain peace in knowing that there IS no right answer, too :)
Thank you, Sasha! It’s fun to take photos outside, now that the grass is green again. I’m glad you know what I mean—as a perfectionist, I’m always struggling to find peace with the fact that there is no perfect answer when it comes to flavors! I want my recipes to turn out just right for everyone, but I can’t please everyone.
Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands
Love to see that the book insanity has calmed down and things getting back to normal! Congrats again!
Thank you so much, Fernando!
Your dressing sounds amazing! I’d like to give that a try!
Eating one green salad a day is the best habit. LOVE love love this green tahini dressing. Can’t wait to try it.
Isn’t it? I always find it easier to focus on eating more of something (like green salads!), rather than restricting myself.
This salad sounds wonderful, especially the dressing. I have a thing for lime/cilantro dressing, and I love tahini. Definitely something I want to try.
Thank you, Susan! I hope you love the dressing.
That recipe sounds delicious!!
Tahini has got to be the ingredient I can’t get enough of lately. :) The lime, cilantro, tahini combo here sounds just right for throw together salads. Just got back from a little traveling and all I want to eat are big green salads everyday now too. Yay for being done with the book! Woohoo!
Me, too! Can’t get enough tangy tahini. Hope you had a great time on your travels!
Celeste | The Whole Serving
Beautiful salad with beautiful flavors. This is my kind of feel good, good for you salad.
Thank you, Celeste!
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
Eating a big green salad a day is the best idea ever and so much easier in the spring and summer. Can’t wait to try this dressing!
The photos for this recipie are so pretty! The table in the background adds a really interesting texture and I LOVE the colors. It makes me want to run to the grocery store and pick up a head of kale asap :) Can’t wait to try this! I know food can be a pretty subjective thing, but I would say that all of your recipie that I have tried (and I have tried A LOT) have been winners in my book! I guess we have similar taste buds :) Good luck pushing forward with the cookbook, I fully intend to preorder copies for myself and several family members when it finally becomes available!
Thank you so much, Sarah! I was having a rough day yesterday, and your comment really brightened it. That little table in the background came from my grandmother’s backyard, so it’s special. :) So glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my recipes, and thank you so much for your support! It means a lot.
Ohhhh that dressing sounds absolutely AMAZING. I love how it’s creamy, yet still totally nourishing and healthy! Pinned :)
Thank you, Alexa! Hope you’re having a great week. :)
Jessie @ Chasing Belle
This looks super yummy, pretty, easy, and tasty! This salad has checked all of my checkboxes for what I look for in a meal. Love love love it and can’t wait to try it out!
Thanks, Jessie! Hope you love it!
Really hearty and flavorful. Loved it!
Thank you, Megs! I’m so glad. :)
Nice and healthy recipe
Made this salad last night and it was delicious! The tahini dressing was very good. My son, who just returned from college, loved it. He wants me to make some for his lunch. I have enough dressing left to make another salad. Thanks! I’ve enjoyed eating several of your salads!
Thank you, Katherine! So glad you both enjoyed it. Hooray for salad season!
I made this salad for my lunches this week and it has hit the spot both days! I just used baby kale because I’m too lazy to massage my lunches as I’m rushing to get them packed.
The toasted sunflower seeds and the farro are so good with the dressing. I also added red pepper.
Thanks for another great recipe!
Thank you, Kathleen! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this one. I might have to make another for lunch today!
I made this the day the email arrived as I had some kale that needed to be used. I usually eat it cooked but this was a great salad, the dressing really makes it special. I think I will try making the dressing with my immersion blender next time as it was difficult to get it all out of my Vitamix. Thanks for another delicious recipe!
Thank you, R.A.! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll have to try using my immersion blender next time.
I made your “Everything goes Kale Salad with Green Tahini Dressing” last night for my daughter’s 25 th birthday. I have never toasted pepitas before – and my daughters loved them! Both my daughters asked for your recipe -The salad looked beautiful and tasted delicious. I also made your Farro Feta salad with arugula and that delicious lime dressing – which was also scrumptious and beautiful to present – the lime taste was very fresh. I used my Cuisinart to make the tahini dressing. I served your beautiful salads along with baked Tilapia with lemon juice and a dash of olive oil . All in all it was a healthy, satisfying, delicious and beautiful birthday meal – thanks to you!I love your blog and make your granola – both gingerbread and newer version on a regular basis. Thank you for your recipes!
Hi Peg, happy belated birthday to your daughter! I’m so glad you all enjoyed the salads, and it sounds like a beautiful meal. Toasted pepitas are one of my favorite ingredients. Thank you for your note!
Your photos always look beautiful. And I too have made it a resolution to get in as many veggies as I can in the morning! It always helps to consume a lot of them early so you can get more nutrients in the day! I would eat this salad any day too. YUM.
Thanks, Cassie! I know what you mean. I’ve even been making green smoothies lately! The more greens and veggies, the better.
Eating it now! I’ve been really skimping on the salads lately so this feels super nourishing :-) I didn’t properly measure everything for the dressing but I love that it’s cilantro-flavored. I used barley because it’s something I rarely eat and it turned out great; though adding a whole avocado really makes this salad!
Thank you, Lauren! I’m so glad you loved it. You’re right, no need to measure anything here, really!
I am trying to be better about eating lunch out everyday. What are some good salads to bring to work?
Hi Lisa! This salad is perfect for packing for lunch, as are all of these recipes. Hope those help!
This salad was fantastic! Especially tasty with the halved cherry tomatos!
Thank you, CJ! Glad to hear it.
Made this with our home grown kale and added fresh sugar snap peas. Used Quinoa for the grain. Really good. Will make again so sure.
Awesome! Thank you, Lori.
Another winner, Kate! I was a little wary of all of the cilantro (I’m a borderline cilantro person), but it was great! I love tahini-based dressings so I was curious about what the cilantro would do. I’ll make again for sure. I actually made three C+K recipes this week! This one, Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce, and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale & Pesto Vinaigrette. Keep up the GREAT work! I appreciate all of the plant-based recipes and the modifications for vegans when the recipes do involve dairy!
Thank you so much, Terri! Delighted to hear that you enjoyed all three of the recipes. Yay! I love cilantro, so I tend to go a little heavy on it… it’s so good for you! :)
Thank you so much for this lovely salad, beautiful and delicious! The dressing is such a nice combination. Just the thing after a weekend of not-so-healthful eating.
Thank you, Wendy! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I always crave kale after a long weekend. :)
I’ve been on a tahini kale kick but want to mix it up from the usual boring salad I’ve been making – this fits the bill perfectly. Can’t wait to try it!
Hope you love it!
This dressing is everything. Thank you Kate!
Just made this dressing and LOVED it. Thanks for keeping our salads interesting!
Wanted to let you know that this is one of my favorite salads–I make it at least once a week! I love the dressings, really all your dressings and they’ve helped me to make salads that I actually want to eat.
Your blog is my absolute favorite and you’ve made me a much better, creative, and excited cook. Thank you and keep up the good work!
Thank you so much, Emma! Your note made my day. :)
I like the shot and story board on this
The dressing is spectacular! Didn’t have cilantro so replaced it with parsley. Had this salad even the next day for breakfast ;)
Gettin’ ready to make this for dinner — I always get dinner ready before going off to work, so I have something satisfying and healthy waiting. All that remains is eating it and putting the dishes in the dishwasher!
Anyway, when I’m in the throes of making my endless kale salads, I’ve been wondering if there’s some way to use those tough, inedible stalks. Seems a shame to waste food. This would go for collards too, which I always put in with the kale. I don’t know…could they be simmered to death and then pureed as part of a soup? Or are they beyond help? They could go in a compost pile but I don’t have one anymore (long story), or be fed to farm animals (my neighborhood isn’t zoned for that). What do you think?
Hey, Metalmom. Great question! I don’t personally eat the stalks, but The Kitchn has some great suggestions as to what to do with them. I hope this helps!
This is delicious!!! My first attempt at kale. Thank you for the great recipe.
You’re welcome, Meggan!
I’m not usually a fan of kale salads even though I loved cooked kale, but I decided to give this one a go and I’m really glad I did! At first (before assembling the salad) I thought the dressing was too sweet but it is perfect to balance out the kale. I also appreciated that it was sturdy enough to assemble the night before, to take to work. I’ll be checking out more of your salad recipes!
Thank you, Rosa! This one packs great for lunch. I’m so glad you liked it!
I love this salad. I discovered it a week ago and am already on my third helping. I’m sure this will be in my regular rotation. Thank you!
Delighted to hear it, Erin! Thanks!
I made this for my wife and 12m/o son and we love it! Surprisingly, he really loved the dressing. I thought the kale would be overpowering but it was wonderful. We used some barley for our grains and we made the tahini from scratch (super easy) since we couldn’t find it in the store nearby.
Keep up the great work, and thanks for helping me feed my family healthy meals!
I’m glad this dish was full of pleasant surprises, Joe! Thanks for the kind comment.
Just had this for lunch- so tasty! As I’ve made so many of your recipes over and over again, I thought it was about time I comment. Thank you so much for sharing! I love how easy you make it to plan meals using leftovers and ingredients from other recipes. I’ll definitely be making this again! Please pass my thanks along to Cookie, too.
Thank you, Jordan! I’m so glad you enjoy my recipes. Cookie says hello, and I’ll give her a pat for you!
Hi Kate. Made your Kale Salad with Green Tahini Dressing for family Christmas dinner. It was very popular with diners. Delicious. Thanks so much.
I’m happy to hear that, Simon! Thank you for your review.
The dressing on this salad is amazing! For the salad, we did kale, carrots, sliced bell peppers, golden raisins, and pistachios. It was delish! Super excited we still have more dressing left over so we can make it again!
The dressing is so good! I can’t help but agree. Thank you for your review, Raquel!
This was delicious! Stumbled upon your site because I was trying to find a recipe for Juice Press’s “Green Sauce” recipe, very similar to this dressing. Made enough salad & dressing to last me for the week and can’t wait to eat lunch again tomorrow. For toppings I used the julienned carrots, green pepper, avocado,leftover quinoa, sliced almonds and dried apricots. Thanks!
I’m glad you stumbled. Thanks for sharing and for your review, Julia!
I made this for dinner last night with my neighbors and it was a huge hit with everyone. The kale-quinoa combo worked very nicely, plus great versatility on the choice of veggies. The dressing has a nice kick to it. Served with your oh-so-good spinach artichoke enchiladas, which are always a hit.
This recipe is a keeper. I used buckwheat for the grain. The dressing will be delicious on other salads as well.
Holy smokes! This is amazing! I just finished making it this evening. Everything worked so well together & I LOVE this dressing! Thanks for posting it!
You’re welcome! I’m excited you love it, Amy!
When you say it makes one salad do you mean for one person only? How many will it serve as a dinner side dish?
Hi Katherine! This makes one meal serving size. My assumption is it could make 2-4 side salads depending on the portions.
Great recipe! Thanks, Kate. I love your blog. I have never been disappointed with a single recipe. Congratulations on your wedding, and best wishes :-)
Thank you! I do put in a lot of work to make sure you love them as much as I do.
I can tell :-). I am very grateful for this blog! Yummy and colourful food – everything I like!
I made this today and used farro which provided a nice chewy contrast to the crunchy vegetables. I also made my own tahini and it was so much better – more sesame taste – than store bought and far cheaper. Thanks for the tasty recipe.
Thank you for sharing, Leslie!
I love tahini based dressings! Do you think I could leave out the oil and it would still be a nice consistency?
It likely won’t be a nice of a consistency or flavor. The oil helps it be more like a dressing and allows the other flavors meld together.
Just made this. It was so easy and the green tahini dressing was amazing!
Thank you, Jamie!
This dressing is utterly delicious! I could not stop eating it – so simple and a fabulous way to snazz up any lacklustre salad. Move over lemon and olive oil, a new gals in town
This salad is delicious and so versatile! The dressing really makes it special.
I’d say don’t skip the tomatoes since the burst of sweetness and acidity is a delightful contrast to the grains and creamy dressing. I used a mix of arugula and lamb’s lettuce, and today will be adding a boiled (or poached?) egg. Thanks so much Kate! This will for sure be in future rotation.
Thank you, Gabrielle! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I have made this MANY times! It is a family favorite!
Wonderful, Margaret! Thank you for your review.
I received a grocery delivery with way more kale than I meant to order and, (determined not to let it go bad) went on a hunt for new ways to use it. This recipe was my favorite one I found!
I had to use a red chili pepper because jalepeños can be difficult to find where I live, but the dressing still tasted great! This salad packed well for lunch. Will certainly be making it again soon.
I love that, Kate! Thank you for sharing.
Yummmmmm!! Well, I did make some substitutions based on what I had in the fridge, but still followed the basic recipe. I swapped lemon juice for lime, and parsley for cilantro. Delicious!!! Can’t wait to make with lime and cilantro next time! So good, and definitely works great with anything goes. That’s my kind of salad!
That’s great! Thank you for your review.
Super yummy! And it has everything- tons of vitamins, protein (if you use quinoa), omega-3s (w/ avocado, tang, spice, sweetness, creaminess. YUM. Will totally make again!
That’s great to hear, Hannah! I appreciate your review.
This salad is so yummy, but the dressing is otherworldly. Definitely my new favorite!
Made this last night and it was a hit with my confirmed carnivore husband. He said “Don’t tell me what’s in it, but you can make this again.” We are eating lighter in the warm weather and a kale salad that he likes is a win. I did cut the amount of jalapeno in the dressing in half because he’s not a fan of spice and used parsley instead of cilantro because he has that genetic thing that makes cilantro taste soapy to him. There was enough heat to make it interesting, but not enough to make his head sweat. The dressing is creamy without tasting overwhelmingly of tahini. So good!