Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing is creamy, nutty, tangy, versatile – and super delicious!
This Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing was inspired by a trip to Greece with my husband Robert. We both loved the Greek food so much that I came home and soon started playing around with creating various Greek-inspired dishes. This scrumptious Lemon Basil Tahini Dressing was one of the best, according to my husband Robert!
How I created my Tahini Dressing
Tahini is a sesame seed-based paste that resembles peanut or almond butter in texture. In addition to tasting nutty, it’s also a bit earthy, and slightly bitter. Since I first created this recipe as a dressing for my Greek Orzo Salad, I started with adding tahini to the key ingredients in my favorite vinaigrette – Dijon mustard, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Because tahini is a bit bitter, I swapped out white wine vinegar for white balsamic vinegar (it’s a bit sweeter) and added honey. I threw in fresh lemon juice to brighten it up, and basil – well, because I love basil and thought it would pair well with the other ingredients.
After several attempts (and trips up the stairs to Robert’s office, with spoonfuls of dressing for him to taste), I finally landed on what we both think is the perfect balance between the nutty, somewhat bitter taste of tahini and the fresh citrus flavor of lemon, tartness of vinegar and sweetness of honey and basil. The resulting Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing is bright, lemon-y and a bit nutty in flavor – and super yummy!
Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing serving suggestions
This Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing is delicious on most salads, not just my Greek Orzo Salad. Toss it with mixed greens, cooked grains (like couscous), cucumber, tomato, cooked chicken – it works well with almost all salad ingredients! I also like it drizzled on roasted vegetables, especially broccoli and asparagus.
Note that the dressing needs to sit for at least one hour before serving.
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Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing
Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing is creamy, tangy, versatile – and super delicious! Toss it with mixed greens, cooked grains (like couscous), cucumber, tomato, cooked chicken – it works well with almost any salad ingredient. I also like it drizzled on roasted vegetables, especially broccoli and asparagus. Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, too
- Yield: Around 1 cup 1x
- Category: sauces, salad dressing, gluten free
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
- 1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon balsamic vinegar – or white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup water – add as needed to thin (see directions)
- Place the tahini and lemon juice in the bowl of a small food processor. Process until smooth.
- Add the olive oil, basil, garlic, 1 tablespoon honey, mustard, vinegar, zest and salt; process until smooth.
- Slowly add water, a tablespoon at a time, as needed to thin the dressing.
- Season to taste with ground pepper, and additional honey and/or salt.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Note on honey: I have found that the bitterness of tahini varies significantly by brand – from not bitter at all, to very bitter. As a result, when preparing the dressing you really need to taste and add more as needed. Adding more salt also reduces the bitterness.
Make ahead: Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using. It will thicken as it sits, so you’ll want to thin it by whisking in a tablespoon of water.