This vegan lemon tahini dressing is perfect for a summer salad. No tasteless rabbit food (ahem, I mean salads) around here.
And those $12 Sweetgreen bowls? No need with this dressing in your back pocket. Just a little bit of prep goes a loooong way toward having quick and healthy meals ready to go.
Ingredients, equipment & a mini science lesson
The two most obvious ingredients in this dressing are lemon and tahini. Why do they make such a great flavor combo? Well, the answer has to do with chemistry.
If you’ve ever tasted tahini (as I once took a spoonful to the face only to cartoonishly spit it out into the sink), it’s very bitter. Bitter taste is a hallmark of a substance called a base. If you remember from high school chemistry, the opposite of a base is an acid.
So what can we do to “neutralize” some of that bitter taste? Add acid of course! In this sauce, we use lemon juice and rice wine vinegar.
Still too bitter for you? Or too acidic? Add a tsp of agave, and taste again. Science is waaaay more fun with tasting spoons.
Salt complements the acidic flavors from the lemon and vinegar, while lemon zest enhances the lemony notes. Finally, water thins out the sauce so you can whisk.
To make this bright lemon tahini dressing you’ll need:
- Medium sized mixing bowl
- Whisk (or fork in a pinch)
- Microplane or zester (if you don’t have one, you can carefully remove the outer layer of zest from your lemon using a knife, but I don’t recommend it unless your knife skills are solid).
Frequently asked questions
What tahini do you recommend? Trader Joe’s tahini works well.
Do I need to wash my lemons prior to using? As a rule of thumb, I wash all my fruits and veggies before using to remove any pesticides or germs.
Do I need organic lemons? Since we’re using lemon zest as well as the lemon juice, I recommend buying organic lemons. As a rule of thumb, try to buy organic produce when you plan to eat anything that isn’t protected by a thick outer layer. I try to buy apples, berries, and greens organic, while bananas and citrus fruit is usually ok to buy conventional if I’m not using the zest. That said, if you can afford to buy all organic, go for it!
I don’t have any rice wine vinegar, what can I use instead? You can use lemon juice, or experiment with other vinegars. Apple cider vinegar could be a nice choice. I do not recommend white vinegar or red wine vinegar.
What should I serve with lemon tahini dressing? This vegan lemon tahini dressing is great with a salad. When choosing fruits & veggies, think of what might taste good with lemon. My favorite salad has roasted sweet potatoes, rice, some greens, dried cranberries and fresh apples. Check out the recipe below!
How do you roast sweet potatoes? Easy – dice sweet potatoes into 1 in cubes, toss with cooking oil and salt to coat, then roast at 400 F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip using spatula, then roast for another 20 minutes or until they start to slightly brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before using, otherwise your greens will wilt.
My dressing is too bitter, help! Add acid in the form of lemon juice or rice wine vinegar. Start with a teaspoon at a time and mix between tastes.
What other sauces can I make for better tasting veggies? This cilantro lime sauce is killer, my peanut sauce is to die for, this “steak” sauce will jazz up everything from a baked potato to a cauliflower steak, and this vegan chimichurri never gets old.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and star rating.Print
- Zest 1 lemon
- Juice 1 lemon + more if tastes bitter (I needed another lemon quarter)
- ⅓ c tahini
- ⅓ c water
- Pinch salt
- 1T rice wine vinegar
- 1T agave (optional)
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth!
- If too thick, add more water.
- If too bitter, add more acid (recommend adding lemon juice by lemon quarters).
- If too runny, add a little more tahini, but make sure to balance with more lemon juice or vinegar in teaspoon size increments.
Need something delicious to top with my vegan lemon tahini dressing? Look no further! Roots Natural Kitchen in Charlottesville, VA inspired this one!
- 2 sweet potatoes, diced
- 1–2 T olive oil
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- Red onion – diced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, prep the sweet potatoes and onion.
- Toss sweet potato pieces in olive oil, and roast for 40 mins, flipping halfway. If not easily pierced with a fork, roast for longer in 5-10 min increments.
- Prepare rice according to package directions. I used green bamboo rice, but whatever you have will work.
- Make the lemon tahini sauce.
- Assemble: handful spinach, 1-2 T of red onion and cranberries, nice scoop of rice and sweet potatoes. Top with lemon tahini sauce and dig in!
Use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like!
Keywords: lemon tahini; vegan; bowl; salad