On Monday nights my good friend Georgia and I rehearse in a local pop choir that is run by an old friend from Brisbane. The last few weeks, Georgia and I have started cooking an afterwork meal together prior to rehearsal, and it has been a very enjoyable challenge to see what delicious feast we can make and eat within an hour at dusk. This salad is a riff on one that Georgia made last week – thinly sliced raw broccolini with cooked lentils, all smothered with a more-ish, sweet and lemony tahini dressing. I’ve been trying to get more zinc in my diet, so I’ve added crunchy toasted pepitas here, but her original salad had toasted flaked almonds (feel free to sub them in instead if you prefer), both add a delicious and crunchy textural element to this salad.
The raw broccolini in this salad only softens slightly with the acid of the dressing, so it’s actually a great salad to make ahead of time (add the toasted pepitas when serving to retain their crunch) or bring to work for lunch. It’s also extremely flexible – torn black kale works well here, as would a variety of green vegetables, and I can imagine cooked chickpeas would work well in the place of lentils.
Some notes on tahini:
When it comes to tahini, the delicious sauce made from blending sesame seeds, I prefer the hulled variety over the unhulled. This is for a few reasons: firstly, because I think it is a more pleasant tasting tahini, less bitter, smoother and creamier.
Secondly, because although much of the sesame seed’s calcium and fibre lies in the outer bran (hull), so does most of it’s phytic acid – an “anti-nutrient” that is found in legumes, nuts, grains and seeds. Phytic acid binds to the minerals and nutrients in the seed, and makes it hard for our bodies to digest them. The process of soaking, sprouting, cooking or hulling removes it. Hulled tahini still contains a good serve of calcium, and your body is able to use it easily without the phytic acid inhibiting its absorption.
Thirdly, Hulled tahini is more “traditional”, and generally I think that, when it comes to food, looking at the way cultures have traditionally prepared their ingredients gives us a good idea as to how to get the most nutrients out of them. Sometimes we go a bit crazy on the idea of “wholegrain” and think that everything is better for us in its whole form. Whilst this is most often true, it’s not always the case, and sometimes ingredients have been processed a certain way for hundreds of years for a good reason.
This is just my opinion formed from information I have read over the years, I encourage you to do your own research. Either way, seek out a delicious, fresh tasting tahini from your favourite bulk foods store. :) x
Raw Broccolini, Lentil and Tahini Salad
This is a flexible salad, torn black kale works well here, as would a variety of green vegetables, and I can imagine cooked chickpeas would work well in the place of lentils. I prefer hulled tahini over unhulled, because I think it tastes better and is easier to digest – see above for more info. Tahini can sit on a store’s shelf for years, so make sure you seek out a delicious, fresh tasting tahini from a bulk foods store with a high turnover. Stir the tahini well if it has split, prior to using.
Adapted from my friend Georgia’s recipe and from the dressing in Anna Jones’ Sweet and Salty Tahini Crunch Greens in A Modern Way to Eat.
Prep time: 13 min
Cook time: 2 min
Raw Broccolini, Lentil and Tahini Salad
50g | 1/3 cup pepitas (or flaked almonds, other chopped nut)
80ml | 1/3 cup great tasting tahini***
3 tbls lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tbls maple syrup
1 tbls olive oil
250g cooked lentils (choose Puy, beluga or Persian red) or 1 x 400g tin, drained and rinsed.
1/2 bunch | 1 handful of coriander leaves, chopped
1 ripe avocado, cubed
Start by toasting your pepitas in a hot, dry frypan, till they start to puff up and crackle. Stir continuously to ensure they don’t burn, and remove from pan promptly before they colour too much – about 1-2 min.
Then make the dressing in a small jar or bowl – combine the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup and olive oil, and stir till smooth)
Prepare your broccolini: cut each stalk in half crossways, then finely slice them lengthways into rough batons/matchsticks (see picture). Put them in a large bowl and smother them with 3/4 of the prepared tahini dressing. Used your hands to massage the dressing into the broccolini till well coated, and then add the lentils. Gently toss a few times and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside till ready to serve.
Toss through the coriander and toasted pepitas, and top each serve with the avocado. Drizzle with the remaining tahini dressing (you may need to thin it out with a teaspoon of water if it has seized up).
Best eaten within 3 days, store leftovers airtight and refrigerated.