Outstanding Miso Sesame Dressing

by Gena on June 27, 2011

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All my excitement about fattening up Zukay’s wonderful cucumber mint dressing last week got me thinking about dressings, and how my smoky avocado cumin dressing was the first I’ve made in a long time. Then on Saturday I was at Roots, browsing with Valerie and Katie, when I saw a packaged kale salad that was, if I may say so myself, very sad looking (I should also say that everything else in the market is fab looking). “Phhhfffffffft” I exclaimed to Katie. “Why would anyone pay for that when kale salad is so easy to make at home?”

No sooner had I said it, than I realized that I haven’t made kale salad in a really, really long time—not since I got to DC. Gasp! Sacrilege! My favorite food has taken a month long hiatus. All together, these little revelations forced me to admit that I needed to revamp my own kale salad with a fun new dressing. This dressing—a drinkable miso and sesame blend sweetened with agave—is my solution, and it happens to pair beautifully with kale. Even M, who’s not one to salivate over raw food, has outdone me in salad consumption for our last few shared dinners.

Now that’s telling.

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Outstanding Miso Sesame Dressing (high raw, vegan, gluten free)

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1/4 cup mellow white miso
3 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup tahini (raw is preferable, but roasted is fine, and less costly)
2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp grated, fresh ginger
1/2 cup water + more as needed

1) Blend all ingredients together on high. Add more water if the mixture is too thick.

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To make the kale salad pictured, begin with:

1 bunch curly kale
1 large beefsteak tomato, chopped
1 large bell pepper (or 2 small), chopped

1) De-stem, chop, and wash kale well

2) Add about 1/3-1/2 cup of the miso dressing to the kale. Using your hands, “massage” dressing into salad well, till it’s a little wilted in texture.

3) Add tomatoes and peppers, and toss. Serve!

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There’s nothing quite like returning to one of your favorite foods after a little hiatus. Especially when that food is one of the most nutrient dense and delicious on earth. What a wonderful new way to enjoy my favorite dish!

What food haven’t you eaten in a while? Can you think of new ways to prepare it?

Happy Monday. A holiday weekend awaits us!


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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Green Shushi June 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

mmm this looks delish! LOVE kale salad! I find that the most time consuming part of it is washing the kale…


jody June 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I hate to ask this, but is there a possible substitute you would recommend for kale in these kinds of salads? It is a sad thing, but in The Netherlands, I’ve only been able to find kale from September-March. It isn’t available at other times. My green smoothies haven’t been the same for months!


bo June 28, 2011 at 5:41 am

Hey a fellow Dutchie! I’m wondering about it as well!


gwynedd February 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

You could lightly blanch (very lightly) Savoy cabbage (the green crinkly kind) or use Chinese cabbage like bok choy. If that doesn’t work, mache (cornsalad) could work even though it is more tender. Or use chard (silver beet) or spinach.


Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn June 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Weeee I cannot wait to try this!! I am suuuper impressed by M — the more salads, the better!


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats June 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm

This looks delicious – I love miso + agave – they work so well together. :)


Kelsey June 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm

this sounds awesome! can’t wait to try. I LOVE kale and miso-anything.

It’s truly the best when you forget about a food you love and get to sort of rediscover it!


Hadley June 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

This looks amazing! Cannot wait to try it — I bet it would also be yummy as a tofu sauce/marinade.


Amanda June 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I have a firm belief that tahini can make anything taste good :-)


Christine (The Raw Project) June 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Wow, had to star this post because the dressing looks perfect! Tahini is amazing stuff that I could eat right out of the jar!


Daniel June 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I haven’t had eggplant in forever and I can’t wait until they start popping up so I can buy them once our farmer’s market opens. I’m really looking forward to trying out an eggplant “bacon” recipe – my tastebuds and mandoline are dying to try it. :P


The Delicate Place June 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

i’ve never actually had tamari.does it have wheat? soy sauce makes my mouth break out like crazy in itchy little bumps (guess it’s the wheat!) i had a frozen banana blended with frozen avocado chunks with vanilla for a creamy ice cream. it’s been prob since before lent since i’ve had a nanner!


gwynedd February 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Tamari is supposed to be the liquid from miso unlike soy sauce, which has wheat, but in many cases, it is just soy sauce and has wheat. You’d have to see it is is listed as gluten free or try to buy wheat free tamari.


Jackie June 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Gena, I turned on my computer tonight looking for a quick and easy pad Thai sauce when I came upon this post (luckily I read your blog before doing anything else so I didn’t waste time looking around!). It seemed like it would work so I threw it over kelp noodles and it was delicious. I look forward to trying it on a kale salad as well! How did you know I would need this recipe tonight? Thanks as always :)


Tracy June 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

We don’t get agave syruop in Oz what would be a good substitute?


Susan June 27, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Honey, if you’re not (strict?) vegan. Maybe maple syrup?


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats June 28, 2011 at 9:16 am

Do you have access to liquid coconut sap – it is vegan, and sort of in-between honey and agave in flavor. Or maybe brown rice syrup?


Jen June 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm

It’s so weird…I just posted about making tahini-miso sauce. And to answer your question about what I haven’t eaten in a while…it’s that sauce! I used to make it all the time. Now since rekindling my life for the tahini-miso combination, I’ve been making it again every day. As part of my lunch today, I used some to dip a raw red bell pepper in. For dinner I’ve been pouring it over a baked sweet potato. Heavenly. Your dressing is a little bit more spruced up than the quick-mix variation I throw together on a whim, but I can imagine exactly how it tastes. I love the sesame addition. I can’t wait to make this!


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm

The dressing sounds perfect and the kale salad looks wonderful. I love the picture of it in the wooden bowl. It’s beautiful and looks so inviting!

Back to the dressing…anything with tamari, miso, tahini just screams of Gena. And anything with agave just screams of me :)

Gotta try this one!

And foods that I hadnt had in ages, well lately it’s been watermelon b/c few people eat watermelon over the winter but they are in season here and I am loving them. In full force!


Pure2raw twins June 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm

this miso dressing sounds perfect, we have started to eat more miso (inspired by you) and forgot how much we love it


Stephanie June 27, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Gena, you’re the best. I’ve been looking for a miso sesame dressing FOREVER but all the ones I’ve tried have been crap. This is the first one that looks like a winner, and it’s used on a kale salad. Best thing ever? I think so. I’ve got a kinda-meh kale salad in the fridge right now, but once it’s done I’m going to be making this, though I’ll probably sub brown rice syrup for the agave because it’s what I have on hand.


Sylvia Black June 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm

This post reminds me that I haven’t had a really great salad in far too long – and when I do make one, it definitely needs homemade dressing. This one looks really tasty :)


Mountain Girl (Eat Hike Sleep Repeat) June 27, 2011 at 8:33 pm

After all of your talk the other day about how lovely fat is in salad dressing, this sounds fabulous : )
Looking forward to cooking up a storm this holiday weekend!


Ali (urbanfruitbat) June 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm

This looks so so yum. My M and my baby sister would like their plates clean I think! Such wonderful flavor combinations. I am amazed that you went a whole month without kale!! Did anything fall off? I am glad you have been reunited with a long lost love, and that you have turned M onto some dense nutrients! Keep up the awesome raw conversion work sister! My M eats almost all raw with me now too! It can be done!


Meghan @ StruggleMuffins June 27, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I have a major lovejones for miso – and a minor one for tahini. I’ve never tried either with agave and I think this dressing recipe is the perfect opportunity for me to get acquainted with what looks like a winning combination. I’m seriously so excited to make this.

As for foods I haven’t eaten in a while, I’m going to go with tempeh. I saw it prepared like ground beef for a taco recipe on Edible Perspective recently and it was definitely enticing….


Ela June 27, 2011 at 10:47 pm

That sounds so good. I’m wanting to try making some kale chips with my new dehy in the next day or two: that dressing sounds like it would work that way too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much miso (proportionately) in a recipe, but my ND says that together with sauerkraut, miso is the best for re-establishing gut flora, so I’m looking for more ways to get more of it in.

So agree about the hiatus and extra pleasure. I haven’t been able to get my hands on parsnips for weeks and was just thinking how much I’d enjoy some…


Arielle (Your Vegan Girlfriend) June 27, 2011 at 11:24 pm

OOOOWEEEEE yum yum yum! I too need to revamp my daily kale salad and this will be perfect! Tahini and miso in anything spells a very happy Arielle.

Do you ever find that the kale salad doesn’t absorb the dressing as well when it is not oil based? If I don’t masage my kale with a little oil first it never gets as wilty and delish. Normal? Am I massaging wrong haha?

Thanks Gena!


Gena June 30, 2011 at 8:06 am

yeah, some oil does help, but I find that a rich dressing like this will work if I massage the kale really hard.


Mama Pea June 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Outstanding is right! If you served that salad and dressing, I’d grab the serving bowl and ask where yours was.

Hope things are well with you. I’ve been wondering…


Cayle @ belly-fat-workouts June 28, 2011 at 12:20 am

Big Fan of the kale salad and not just because its my name!


Laura Agar Wilson (@keephealthstyle) June 28, 2011 at 2:44 am

Gosh that dressing sounds right up my street! I often make a really quick dressing with just tahini, miso and water but this sounds like the bomb! I haven’t had a raw kale salad for way too long so I may be recreating this exactly very soon!


bitt June 28, 2011 at 3:16 am

Love the sound of that combo on a salad, or even noodles. Or kale ribbons. I take breaks from even my favorite foods once in awhile. I think it’s vital to rotate and I think our society has such a narrow amount of veggies and fruits compared to what the wild can provide. So if you take a break, no biggie!


Hannah June 28, 2011 at 3:22 am

Bananas! I haven’t had bananas in months! Why oh why won’t they drop in price from $3 each? *sob*

Though that may not be quite what you mean by “food” :P As for who would buy sad-looking packaged kale salad? I would, but only because I can never find fresh plain kale here. I can, however, gloriously find all the ingredients for your dressing, so methinks with the addition of chilli and some other veggies for the kale, I’ve got this weekend’s lunch salad sorted :)


Jess June 28, 2011 at 8:20 am

Yum! I made kale salad this week too…with fresh CSA kale :)


Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) June 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

Thank you for what looks to be like another great salad. I think I’m going to include this is this week’s Friday night dinner menu.


Jacqui June 28, 2011 at 10:55 am

Hi Gena-

I am a long time reader -first time comment. I love your blog and have sent the articles in your ED seris to many friends and family members-has prompted some excellent discussions and helped with understanding where I am coming from as well.I am recovering from anorexia (doing better and nearly weight restored but still fighting the thoughts daily). Blogs like yours help a lot. Here is my question-I do a lot of massaged kale salads-but I struggle with how to add them to meals. Part of my internal fight is always feeling like I am eating “too much” at a serving but then finding myself hungry only 2 hours later so clearly not enough then rather than too much. So back to my question-what do you serve the kale salad with to make it a satiating meal? Any suggestions? I made some squash and white bean burgers the other day-would one of those on top, some kale salad mixed with quinoa be a reasonable meal or too much so you think?

Thx for taking the time to respond and your blog means a lot to me.


Gena June 30, 2011 at 8:05 am

You are so kind, Jacqui! Keep on keeping on with your recovery. Time does help.

When I started eating raw I realized quickly that I was doing too much veg — I would get so full of watery veggies that I’d have no room for the beans and grains I like (and need to feel full). I’d do a slightly smaller portion of kale salad and serve it with a sandwich, a whole grain, hummus, a raw sushi roll, a collard wrap with bean dip, etc. Check out my post on Hurry Up Vegan — you can see that my plate is piled high with salad, but also has pasta. On another night, that might be a raw entree.


Lindsey June 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I made this dressing this morning – AMAZING! Thanks, much.


Gena June 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

Woohoo! Glad you like.


Laura Neff June 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Oh hurrah! Thank you for this, Gena! We have huge, beautiful kale leaves in our garden just begging to be used, and I’ve been sadly uninspired. So this hits the spot! Can’t wait to make it, like, tomorrow! :)


Gena June 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

I’m jealous!


Laura Neff July 1, 2011 at 9:23 am

Wish I could get some to you, Gena. It is SO. GOOD! As is this dressing…absolutely outstanding. I made this dish to serve as part of a friend’s bday celebration a few nights ago, and it got absolutely rave reviews, even from people who haven’t had raw kale salad before! Can’t wait to use the leftover dressing in other ways. Gracias!


Katie June 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm

thanks, gena! I’m trying to steer clear of agave for the time being. would liquid stevia be a good substitute here?


Gena June 30, 2011 at 8:07 am

Stevia might leave a funny aftertaste if it’s all you use. Dates? Dates+stevia?


Anonymous June 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

Thanks! I’ll try that out. :)


Stefani July 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I made this tonight and it was fantastic! I have a feeling I’ll be making this dressing A LOT.


Kathy Clark July 16, 2011 at 2:32 am

Wow, I am so impressed with your Blog and great Recipes. I am bookmarking your Blog and copying your recipes. I have been looking for interesting dressings for my salads and this one sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing.

Kathy Clark
Skype: kathyclark1945


Marianne July 25, 2011 at 2:06 am

I love when I find simple, delicious sounding recipes that I actually have all the ingredients for in my pantry. Definitely going to make this, although I might use it for steamed veg or something other than kale (me and kale salad just haven’t hit it off yet).


LindsayH July 29, 2011 at 7:13 pm

This dressing is amazing. I could seriously drink it with a straw it’s so good!


Amanda July 30, 2011 at 8:14 pm

delicious dressing! i can’t wait to use it on my salad at dinner tonight! just to clarify though, do you add all 1.25 cups water or just enough to reach your desired consistency? i just dumped everything in the blender and mine definitely looks more thin and made 3 cups worth of dressing vs 1.6-ish yours made. still delicious, but i was curious as to what your procedure was. thanks & i love your blog! i just got hemp seeds for the first time today to try your hemp hummus and i’m way excited!


Jennyfrend August 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I also followed the recipe as written with 1.25 cups of water and I should have known better, because that seems like quite a bit. I alo got a very watery dressing, so I added more tahini which helped somewhat, but now I have boatloads of the dressing.

It came out well enough I suppose, but now I have to consume all this dressing in a week, which will be challenging.

Live and learn!


Gena August 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

This is a SUPER belated response to you both, but I wanted to say I’m sorry you got a thin dressing. I’ve modified the recipe to 1 cup water, though most folks did OK with the 1.25 cups…I hope this helps!


Emma (Emma+Jacob) October 12, 2011 at 6:41 am

Really really dumb question but it is my first time working with miso. No need to cook/heat/do anything with it before using, right? So treat it like nut butter then place in the fridge after opening?

The miso paste I bought is from a Japanese specialty store near my house and the packaging is in complete Japanese haha. Forgot to ask the store staff for advice so please bear with me :D


Gena October 12, 2011 at 6:44 am

No worries!! Yes, you open it, then keep it in the fridge, and from that point forward you don’t have to mess with it before you use it.


jessie October 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

ha!! i read this while eating kale salad think of new dressing ideas. the one i am eating now is a tahini galic and dill. i live for kale salads. xoxoxo


Deb November 22, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I was just craving a new dressing, and luckily I remembered I bookmarked this one months ago. And, boy was it worth the wait!

The miso, tahini, tamari, and agave really work well together (ha, funny that all those ingredients also end in vowels!). I also added some garlic and dash of crushed red pepper to give it a bit of a kick, and it turned out to be deeply delicious! Yum, I’ll be revisiting this recipe again soon…that is, as soon as the bottle I just made runs out.


Will November 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

wonderful dressing! It went over spectacularly with my family tonight!


Fiona December 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I really like this dressing! Yum, thanks for a great recipe I will be repeating!


Julie January 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

This recipe is DELICIOUS!! What do you serve it with?

BTW: Regarding availability of kale, why don’t you plant some in your garden? I have friends in freezing cold upstate New York and kale pretty much grows year round there – and flourishes in the cold – so i’m sure it will grow in Northern Europe.


monika January 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

raw tahini will have phyates, though…roasted won’t…a good brand to try would be, “better than roasted”…


Sue January 20, 2013 at 3:54 am

Thanks! A friend gave me a bunch of kale yesterday and I made thus for lunch for my somewhat sceptical sister who didn’t like miso… She does now, in this salad! It was divine, think I will be eating a lot of it from now on :))


Jessica June 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm

FINALLY! This is the first time I have eaten a kale salad and actually enjoyed it! Thank you so much Gena for your creative genius. Now I can eat more kale joyfully! (Also threw some corn and toasted sesame seeds into it too. Yum!) Toasted sesame seeds seem to make everything better. Thank you again!!


Gena June 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I’m so glad it was such a success!!


greg jackson August 6, 2013 at 3:09 am

I see in you recipes that you are using AGAVE ?? I thought that agave was bad and basically high fructose syrup? What gives?


Gena August 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm


That is an oversimplification. All concentrated, syrupy sweeteners are not health foods and should be used with discrimination, but agave is not “bad,” ipso facto. It depends on how it’s used, how often, what the portion size of a recipe that employs it is, and so on.



sharon August 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Just made this kale salad & we loved it. Thanks for the great dressing recipe!


Gena August 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

So glad you like!


Dee October 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Whoa. Are you sure it’s supposed to be 1.25 cups water? That seemed like a lot to me, so I did 1 cup and it’s still really runny!! And I don’t have anymore miso to make a new batch :-(
Seriously bummed.


Gena October 11, 2013 at 7:33 am

I’m so sorry you had that result, Dee! That’s what had worked for me (dressings also thicken in the fridge). But when I saw your comment, I re-tested it last night and have come up with new proportions. You may not want to try it again, but I hope this works for you!



Dee October 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

It’s DELICIOUS though! And what I left in the fridge did thicken a bit. I bought more miso today, and we’ll just have kale salad a few times this week. All good. Thanks for replying!


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