Kale and Tahini Sauce

November 11, 2006 at 7:29 am (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing, Vegetable dishes)

This is an update of a post from 2006.  Kale season is finally here in Germany, and I bought a huge bag of curly kale last weekend.  I steamed it (without salt) and served it with a homemade tahini sauce.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  The kale stayed bright green without being tough, and the tahini sauce complemented it very well.  Even though the kale wasn’t salted, the tahini sauce was salty so the whole dish tasted balanced.

Here’s what I put in my tahini sauce (to the best of my memory):

  • 4 Tbs. tahini
  • 2.5 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. apple juice
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4? tsp. soy sauce
  • a big shake of aleppo pepper
  • a dash of smoke paprika
  • a few pinches of cayenne

I stirred it with a fork to blend.  It made about 3/4 of a cup of sauce–probably about ten servings. The sauce came out quite thin and tasted too sweet on its own, but it tasted quite good with the kale.  Next time I might add only a tablespoon of apple juice and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

Original post from Nov 11, 2006:

When I lived in Austin I used to love the steamed kale and tahini sauce from Casa de Luz, a local macrobiotic restaurant. I even volunteered to help in the kitchen once, just to learn how they make it, but unfortunately I either didn’t pick it up or my memory has faded. I have no idea how they ensure that the steamed kale comes out bright green but still tender. When I try steaming curly kale it is either bright green but incredibly chewy and tough, or soft but a putrid color. So until I figure out the secret, I resort to boiling my kale. I know it’s not as nutritious but in my case it tastes so much better. Unfortunately, I also can’t replicate the sauce. My mom even bought me the Casa de Luz cookbook which has about 5 tahini sauce recipes in it, but none seem quite as I remember.

To prepare the kale I washed 2 heads curly kale, and tore it into small pieces. I boiled it in lightly salted water until it was tender, but still bright green, then drained it well.

This recipe is called Eric and Daniel’s Tahini dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. shoyu
  • 1/8 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

Blend together and serve.
My notes:

The kale had a nice color and texture but the flavor was kind of watered down. Definitely very mild. Really too mild in my opinion. I didn’t have any poppy seeds so I left them out. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. The tahini sauce was way too thin. I shouldn’t have added the water I think. The flavor seemed pretty good though, at least when I just tasted a bit. On the kale, on the other hand, I could barely taste the sauce until I added many spoonfuls. But perhaps this was just because it was too watered down. I suspect, however, that even a less-watery version of the sauce would need more acidity. I also didn’t like the addition of shoyu. It gave the sauce more of the dark, carmelized, flavor of soy sauce, and detracted from the medium earthy bitterness of the tahini. Clearly this recipe needs lots more work. If anyone has a good tahini sauce recipe that calls for apple juice or apple cider (as opposed to the more traditional Middle Eastern lemon juice based sauce) I’d love to have it.

Rating: B-


  1. erika said,

    thanks for posting this recipe – it was exactly what i was looking for!

    i subbed tamari for the shoyu – not as mellow tasting, but good.

  2. alekz said,

    hi, i found this while looking through one of my vegetarian cookbooks, The Vegetarian Compass, by Kate Hubert Allison

    2 bunches f red kale, rinsed and stemmed
    3 T white miso
    2 T cider vinegar
    1 T honey
    1.5 t dijon mustard
    1.5t sesame paste
    1 T white wine or sake

    tear or chop kale into bite size pieces. steam for 3 min or until it changes color (or longer if you prefer well-done).
    combine miso, vinegar, honey, mustard, tahini and wine in serving bowl, blending well. toss in hot kale and serve immediately.


    the tahini amount sounds really low, but if you increase it significantly, maybe it’s similar to what you’re looking for?

  3. Jane Marawar said,

    Do you have the recipe for the sunflower seed sauce that goes over rice at Casa de Luz ?

    • captious said,

      I don’t know, but the cookbook does have a recipe for “sun cheese.” It calls for 1.25 cups sunflower seeds, 1 clove garlic, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 2 Tbs. ume vinegar, and 1-1.5 cups water. The sunflower seeds should be soaked overnight and de-skinned. It says that the more skins you remove the white ther sauce will be.

  4. captious said,

    I made a quick tahini sauce tonight with whatever tahini was in the bottom of the jar, 1 small lime’s worth of lime juice, 2 Tbs. of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of soy sauce, aleppo pepper, and a pinch of a few other spices. It was too thick so I thinned it out with a little water, and it turned out perfect I thought. And it didn’t have any sweetener!

    I steamed the (curly, German) kale for 5 minutes, according to the guidelines on world’s healthiest foods. It turned out bright green and certainly edible, but perhaps just a tad bit undercooked for Derek. I think he would have preferred another minute or two of steaming.

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