Balsamic Tahini Dressing

by Gena on January 4, 2011

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I wish I could take credit for this one. As you all know, tahini is without a doubt one of my favorite condiments. I use it in everything, from smoothies (like my mellow green smoothie) to soups to sauces to dressings, and I adore it. Every time I post a tahini recipe, I get at least four or five comments from readers who hate the stuff, and ask what they can substitute for it (the answer: cashew or macadamia nut butter). But I persist in loving it, and everything it’s a part of: hummus, falafel, and so on, and so forth.

A few nights ago, my boyfriend was struck with the ingenious notion of combining tahini and balsamic vinegar. As soon as I heard it, I declared it brilliant. Not a typical flavor pairing, but since when do I like conventional flavor pairings? If avocado and chocolate didn’t forever persuade me that conventional pairings are nonsense, then nothing will. And actually, tahini and balsamic work really beautifully. The sweet and sour balsamic offsets the salty tahini, and since tahini is a relatively mellow flavor, it’s a perfect canvas for a really strong acid.

Our original tahini and balsamic experiment was just that: tahini and balsamic vinegar, tossed with a bowl of chopped veggies. The following day, at lunch, I made a slightly more refined version. I hope you’ll love it.

Balsamic Tahini Dressing (yields 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1/2 clove finely minced garlic)
1 tbsp tamari or nama shoyu

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Enjoy over salad, as a sandwich/falafel dressing, or as a dip. Adjust the water in the recipe to suit your purposes: you may want to add a bit more or less depending on whether this is a dip or dressing.

For my part, I served this over a heaping bowl of veggies and spinach.

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The meal was rounded out with some simple whole grain crackers and a white bean dip—I’ll be hitting you with that recipe soon! It was a lovely, simple lunch.

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This dressing proves that adventuresome flavor combinations almost always pay of. (Almost—I’m still traumatized by the garam masala and honeydew melon smoothie I once tried.) What are your favorite unexpected flavor pairings? And what recipes did you find them in?

xo

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathryn January 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

This looks amazing and I literally, just now, ran out of salad dressing.

Happy New Year!

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Stephanie January 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Yum! That looks delicious!

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Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) January 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Yum! Can’t wait to try it (I just love when you post a recipe that I already have all of the ingredients for in my kitchen)!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Glad that M’s suggestion and pairing worked out so well for you two! Garlic in a recipe, yes, that is not the old Gena type recipe..but it’s just a dash so maybe it could have been :)

I am just so-so with tahini. I love sunflower seed butter for something that has about that consistency. The flavors arent the same but I like making sauces with SFSButter.

Flavor combos that are unexpected but that I love…nooch + chocolate/cocoa powder. Yum. Could eat that combo every day…maybe I do :)

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Christin@purplebirdblog January 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I think my favorite is the nutritional yeast/PB combo! It just works!

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Lisa @ Thrive Style January 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I LOVE tahini. A lot. It’s so good, sometimes I eat it plain…but I try to not be overboard with that :)

I made something called Chick Pea Surprise (named by a friend), that has tahini and balsamic (or other vinegar) in it, and for me it totally rivals hummus!

Love this recipe.

~Lisa

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melissa January 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

So easy. I have finally started to love tahini and it is a low sodium alternative for me as well!

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Antony January 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

What a delicious idea! thanks :-)

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Gena January 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

Thanks Antony!

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eileen January 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

hi gena – love, love, love [infinity] your site; it helped turn my junkfood veg BF mostly raw vegan — YAY [infinity]! question about tahini… have you ever made your own? any expert tips? (i don’t have the coveted vitamix (yet), if that makes a difference.)

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Gena January 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

I’ve never made my own, alas! If you do, tell me how it goes. For now, I am thrilled that the boyfriend is changing some of his habits!

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Sarah S. January 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm

My first jar of tahini lasted forever because I wasn’t wild about it. The tahini was very affordable (read: cheap), purchased at an international market. It was fine in recipes as an ingredient among many others, but I wouldn’t dare try a tahini-heavy recipe like this one. That jar recently ran out and I decided to try Arrowhead Mills brand this time around, and guess what, I’m wild about it! That cheap stuff was so bitter and unpleasant, but not a hint of unpleasant bitterness in my new jar. I can’t help but wonder if so many others don’t like it for this reason, too.

Anyway, I am very excited about this dressing! Balsamic dressings are my favorite, so I imagine I will love this version featuring my new favorite condiment.

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Molly January 5, 2011 at 12:43 am

I agree completely! I hated tahini until I – against my better judgment – bought a $10 jar of Artisana Raw Tahini – and now I’m hooked. That stuff is aaaamazing! I think you’re absolutely right that many (most?) people who hate tahini just haven’t had the right one yet. :)

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Green Shushi January 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Who doesn’t like tahini? So good! Will definitely try this combination out!

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Namaste Gurl January 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I love anything with tahini and I’m sure it’d be super tasty paired with balsamic– maybe some fresh arugala and white beans, as well? :-)
Have a good day, Gena!

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Aj January 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Any major ingredient in hummus is a friend of mine.

As for crazy food pairings. I once paired pink graprefruit, chopped kalamata olives and avocado. The tart of the grapefruit, the salty of the olives, and the creamy of the avocado was amazing. I know it sounds crazy, but it was so good!

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Christine (The Raw Project) January 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I’m a huge tahini fan too, can’t get enough of it! The dressing looks wonderful, can’t wait to try it.

Hard to narrow down a few pairings, I discovered beets and oranges with a little dill make a great dressing recently and I adore curry with sauerkraut.

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Jenna January 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Yum! I can’t wait to try this.

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jenny January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

!! i had tahini + balsamic yesterday! mmm mmm

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Ela January 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’ve done tahini and balsamic before: it’s great! I love non-conventional flavor pairings. Made my husband (very traditional palate) potato salad with an almond butter-based sauce today and he loved it! So much better than gacky mayo.

An unusual combo I love is olives and orange zest. Can use in tapenades, pestos and also in light, refreshing salads with orange slices, red onion and olives and orange zest minced together.
love
Ela

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Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day January 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Oh boy.. that does sound awful!!

I just love playing with flavor and do it all the time. It’s so much fun! I use a lot of acid in my desserts and people are often nervous about that.. I make a lovely raw salad with asparagus, grapefruit, cardamom and mint..

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA January 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Hahaha honeydew and garam masala smoothie!?!?! Why?!?!

I love strange flavor combos. There’s a candy called Pulparindo that is spicy, salty, and fruity. Most people think it’s disgusting but I like it. :)

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Dorry January 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I love tahini! Hmmm – I’d say there are times when I interchange salsa and marinara and have been pleasantly surprised that it works out well. Changing Mexican spices and condiments for Italian ones. And avocado can go with anything in my book. Atop a baked potato, with a pasta dish, dessert, etc.

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) January 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

First, I want to thank you again for last weeks guest bloggers. I just made two recipes from The Whole Plate’s post of her 2010 favorites–the collard greens and the beet–they were supberb. Worthy of serving to company!

Second, which tahina do you use–the regular or the raw/much more expensive one and why?

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bitt January 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I wonder if people who say they don’t like tahini don’t like it IN things or just plain. I think it’s way too bitter on its own but love it when it’s balanced with acidity. Too bad I can’t share this recipe with my husband. he hates balsamic! I won’t ask for a substitute for that.

My weird flavor combos? Salsa and hummus, peanut butter and pickles, ketchup and beans. Those don’t sound too weird. I think I need to experiment more.

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melissa January 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

i’ve been dressing my salads with tahini for the last week! unlikely combos (mine are often the sweet/savory style) tahini + molasses, cognac and mushrooms (sauteed) & sweet potato with hot sauce

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Elizabeth@The Sweet Life January 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

This looks delicious–and perfect for dipping veggies and crackers! A belated congrats on your big life decision–I really admire you for pursuing what feels right and making it happen!

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Hannah January 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I’ve grown up with home-made balsamic and olive oil salad dressings, so I’m kinda in love with this idea. And I just have a few scrapings of tahini left at the bottom of my jar. Hello, dinner tonight!

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Kendra Little January 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I was so happy to remember this tonight when I was making dinner: it’s delicious! I was able to just stir it together in a bowl, no food processor needed.

I love the watermelon + olive combo. It’s becoming more mainstream lately, happily.

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Ashley January 5, 2011 at 12:33 am

Sounds like the perfect dressing! I need to start making my dressings a little more interesting and this is the perfect one to start with. Thanks Gena!

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thefruitpursuit (Sabine) January 5, 2011 at 2:41 am

Your boyfriens is a genius ;). i just recently got mine to try tahini, and he now loves it, so cute! Not so cute that he eats all of the hummus everytime before I get to it, though. ;)

I’ll be trying this soon, good to have ya back!

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Gena January 8, 2011 at 11:57 am

He is definitely a genius, Sabine.

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laura@keepingslimgettingstylish January 5, 2011 at 5:53 am

Hi Gena, just wanted to say how much I love your blog. I’m a pretty new reader but have been catching up with your posts. I’m a new vegetarian and I’m trying out eating vegan this month so your recipes have given me lots of inspiration. I made your green goddess dressing and it was amazing. I will definitely be giving this one a try too!

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Gena January 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

Awww, thanks Laura! I’m glad you said hello!

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Gena January 8, 2011 at 11:58 am

Thanks so much Laura! It’s a joy to have you reading!

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) January 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

YAY TAHINI! I’m amazed (and occasionally appalled) at how quickly I go through it. Can’t wait for gorgeous tomatoes to come back so I can make tomato tahini soup.

I too have had a traumatic melon/garam masala experience. I can’t even remember where I got the idea to try it, but yeah a raw melon soup with GM in it happened to me and you can believe I burned that recipe right away.

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Sara January 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Just made this and wanted to thank you (and your BF). This WAS SO GOOD!! It reminded me of this Goddess dressing that I was obsessed with years and years ago before I was vegan.

On another note: how long can home made dressings keep in the fridge?

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Ashley January 6, 2011 at 12:23 am

Just made this and topped on kale chips! The huz + I both loved it..thanks gena!!

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Elizabeth January 8, 2011 at 1:44 am

I made this dressing just the other day. It was great! The bf LOVED it too! Thanks, Gena!

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Hilah January 9, 2011 at 10:38 am

Oh I LOVE tahini! This dressing would probably be great on some orange or grapefruit segments, too.

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tiffany January 11, 2011 at 12:29 am

Hubba hubba, this is brilliant! I’ve been on the hunt for a new way to use balsamic in a dressing. Thanks for sharing!

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Ligia Pop January 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Looks fantastic! Thanks for the recipe!

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Alison January 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I just made your dressing and it is amazing! I could drink it, it is so good. Needless to say I will be eating a lot of salad in the future. Thanks for sharing!

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Allison January 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Made this today for my salad and it’s delicious! Thank you!! :-)

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Somber January 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I just made it and is absolutely delicious! It could use a little more salt for my taste but other than that, yummy! It tastes very similar to the dressing they use at this Japanese restaurant I go to. You now have a new follower :)

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Caroline April 17, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Love the idea of tahini and balsamic. I followed this recipe and used soy sauce (didn’t have any shoyu), went a little heavier on the garlic, and added about 2 tablespoons of raw honey (heavy tablespoons, mind you). Turned out perfectly :) Thanks for the recipe! Great pairing of flavors.

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janet @ the taste space June 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

This was absolutely delicious, Gena. Definitely a favourite dressing. :)

Wrote about it here: http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/quinoa-and-chickpea-salad-with-a-tahini-balsamic-dressing/

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karen August 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I just wanted to share a recipe from our smoothie bar. It is called ” Vert d’Aquarius”….mango, spinach, maca, vitamineral green, lots fresh ginger, apple cider, coconut milk and spirulina… if you have….PS…we have just started on our web-site in the process of more photographs, recipes…. any suggestions?
Thank-you for your gorgeous recipes…k

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Robin December 29, 2013 at 12:10 am

Oh my goodness, this was excellent! I love balsamic and I love tahini but I can never quite seem to get the ratios right when I make dressings. I halved this recipe and used a cranberry-pear balsamic that I got my mom for Christmas and it made the perfect amount to dress a big after-Christmas salad for a family gathering of 5. We even have leftovers of the dressing. I also added some red pepper flakes and a bit more garlic powder. Definitely making this again!

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nikki January 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Oh my heavens! This is so fantastically good! Thank you for being creative and adventurous and ending my hourlong search for a good dressing! Now I can eat!!

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