Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (& Homemade Tahini!)

Sure this Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing is delicious, and healthy, and reportedly Greek so it is going to Regional Recipes: Greece, hosted by my blogging buddy Joanne at Eats Well With Others but the really important thing is…I MADE Tahini! And by “made” I don’t mean I opened the jar, I actually toasted and ground up sesame seeds and made some pretty tasty tahini and it was easy, and economical too.

I go through a fair amount of tahini here at Kahakai Kitchen—it’s how I get through much of the unending kale and other dark leafy greens in my CSA box—sautéed leafy greens with tahini sauce = yum. Here, depending on the brand and type, it is around $9-$11 a jar—unless I can find it on sale. My trial batch of tahini used 2 cups of organic, hulled sesame seeds which came to $2.64 at my local co-op and netted me about 1 1/2 cups of tahini. I’d say that for a minimum amount of effort (cleaning the food processor is the hardest part), and with bulk sesame seeds, homemade tahini is quite a bargain and it tastes great--even better than most of the store-bought brands I have tried. I can't believe I never attempted to make my own before now.

There were several recipes for homemade tahini but I went with this one and then adjusted it a bit. The instructions said to pulse the toasted seeds in the food processor for 3-5 minutes, I just left it running, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides until it became smooth. I also added a bit of sesame oil at the end for a little extra flavor. Great taste and the texture ended up much smoother than some of the ones I saw online. I don’t know if that is due to keeping the processor running, the fact I toasted the sesame seeds pretty lightly, or I was busy and impatient and didn’t wait for the seeds to cool…so I think much more tahini experimentation is in order to figure it out.

Homemade Tahini
Adapted from D.I.Y. Tahini from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups white sesame seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil

Heat a heavy wide-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast lightly - about 2 minutes, shaking the pan so they toast evenly. Let cool completely.

Put sesame seeds into a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Process for 3-5 minutes, or until it's as smooth as you can get it, stopping to scrape down the sides periodically. When mostly smooth, drizzle sesame oil in and pulse a few times to blend. Refrigerate.

I promptly used 1/2 cup of my tahini in this fresh-tasting parsley salad. The tahini is mixed with lemon juice, garlic, and other seasonings into a delicious dressing that is then mixed with chopped parsley, green onion and toasted pine nuts to make a meze-style salad. The salad is from “Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings” by Joyce Goldstein, a book that should have been pulled off my cookbook shelves and used long ago. I served it with some homemade pita chips, seasoned with cumin.

Goldstein says, “While called a salad, this is really a meze spread to be served with pita bread. I sometimes add toasted pine nuts to the parsley and tahini mixture, as I think they add texture and sweetness. If you don’t have green onions on hand, you can use 4 tablespoons chopped chives instead.

Greek Parsley Salad with Tahini Dressing (Tahini Salata)
Mediterranean Fresh” by Joyce Goldstein
(Serves 4-6)

1/2 cup tahini dressing (see recipe below), plus more if needed
sea salt, if needed
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
pita bread, cut into triangles and warmed

Put the tahini dressing in a blender or small food processor and beat in a bit of water to make it thin enough to coat the leaves. Salt is crucial for the balance of flavor, so dip a leaf of parsley into the dressing and add salt if needed.

In a salad bowl, toss the parley, green onions, and toasted pine nuts with the dressing. Serve with the pita bread for scooping.

Tahini Dressing
(Makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup cold water, plus more if needed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp toasted cumin seed, ground (optional)
pinch of cayenne (optional)
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Combine the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor or blender and puree. Add water as needed to thin to a spreadable consistency for a dip and even thinner for salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and with cumin and cayenne if you like.

To serve as a dip, spoon into a shallow bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley. (Some cooks stir the parsley into the dressing.)

Variation: Add 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and ½ tsp cayenne to the tahini mixture when pureeing.

Notes/Results: Really good! I wasn’t too sure I would like all of that parsley but the tahini dressing softens it and the toasted pine nuts add nice texture. I think it would make an awesome sandwich spread too. The dressing is better than my usual tahini dressing (is it the recipe or my HOMEMADE tahini? Hmmm…), so I think it may become a staple. I will make all three recipes—tahini, the salad and the dressing again. The rest of my tahini is destined for some yummy hummus. ;-)

In addition to Regional Recipes Greece (which Joanne will be rounding up at the end of the month), this post is being linked to Two for Tuesdays co-hosted by my good friend girlichef. Two for Tuesdays focuses on “real” and hand prepared foods and this homemade tahini and salad definitely qualify. girlichef and the other Two for Tuesday hosts will have the links of all the recipes submitted this week on their blogs, so go check them out.


In case you are a regular reader of my blog and were wondering…next week it’s back to my normal semi-regular Tuesday “Things I Am Loving This Week” post.



  1. good for you! I find that making dressings/sauces is a great way to save $$ :)

  2. I bet it's because it was HOMEMADE! I mean, I didn't realize tahini wasn't born in a jar, LOL!! I'd never really even thought about making my own...but yeah, it's expensive so I'm definitely going to try it this way next time! Oh, I can almost taste the hummus now...F will thank you for it, it's one of his favorite things!!! Thanks so much for taking this Tuesday off (thought I can say it's something I'm loving right now) and bringing this to Two for Tuesdays...it's perfect! And ditto on all that parsley...guess I'll have to try it myself to figure out how I'd like it.

  3. Thanks for the homemade Tahini dressing recipe. I love this.

  4. I've never made my own tahini. That has just gone to the top of my must-do list. It is easy and I trust you when you say its better than the commercial variety. The parsley spread and dressing also sounds amazing. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. This is such an easy recipe, thank you for sharing.

  6. I love tahini (ha-ha)! I really do love it though and I think this salad looks really appealing, especially with those big pita chips and I like your idea of using it as a sandwich spread. I bet your homemade tahini will make some outstanding hummus.

    I've been wondering about "things I am loving this week". Off to check out the Souper Sundays roundup. Somehow I am way, way behind on commenting.

  7. Ah, now see, I've got the opposite problem, but homemade tahini is still the solution. I don't use tahini all that often, so if I buy some, it ends up kicking around in the fridge long enough for the oils to spoil. If I made it at home, I could do it in a much smaller batch. Fantastic!

  8. deb, this is SOOOO greek! lol like, it reminds me of being a kid! Lovely--I think i will make it with my greek meatballs next time! Thanks for sharing the real food love on two for tuesday recipe blog hop! :) Alex

  9. I never buy tahini because it's so expensive - your post made me sooo happy cause now I know how to make it! I don't know why I never thought of making it myself before. Oh, well, now I can! And I love parsley so I'm definitely going to try this salad too. I'm so glad that you added this to our Two for Tuesday blog hop! Thank you so much for joining in the fun! :)

  10. I never thought of making my own tahini but you make it sound so yummy. Can't wait to try it. I wonder how long it will last in the fridge?

  11. I am LOVING the fact that you made your own tahini! Makes this all the better. Although I do love a good tahini dressing no matter what. I'm going to have to look into making my own as soon as my current jar runs out!

  12. Wow, homemade tahini! How wonderful! And the dressing with is sounds excellent!

  13. I made homemade walnut butter yesterday and no matter how long I left my food processor running, I couldn't get it smooth enough. It reminded me of your tahini experiment. But, I didn't toast the walnuts. Definitely more research needed to solve these mysteries!

  14. That's it? That's all you have to do to make tahini? Why on earth haven't we been making our own tahini for years?!!

    Many thanks for posting this. (I can't believe I missed seeing this last week.)


  15. This is such a unique recipe - I've only come across a parsley salad once. Love the idea of homemade tahini too - think I must give it a whirl as the bought stuff is so expensive!

  16. Don't know where you got the idea that this is Greek. I know Greek cooking pretty well and have never heard of such a thing. There are lots of Middle Eastern recipes for such a parsley salad though if you had had a bit of a google.

  17. Well Anonymous, I don't claim to be an authority on Greek cooking and that is why I said "purported to be Greek", because that is what it said in the cookbook--or the place "where I got the idea it was Greek" Either way, I made no claims it was definitely Greek and it was tasty so I for one am not going to worry about it. It was a chance to use homemade tahini, use a new cookbook and have it work for a fun event--a win in my eyes.


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