Hello, Old Friend

I’m a big proponent of the well-stocked pantry, but there is one staple that has until recently been banished from my larder: tamari.

You see, tamari and I have a history. When I was in college, I went on a bit of a tamari bender. The darker, thicker, wheat-free cousin of soy sauce found its way into nearly everything I cooked. Back in the day I was a pretty strict vegetarian, and tamari is as flavorful as a piece of meat or hunk of cheese. It enhances the flavor of everything from rice to tofu to steamed vegetables. Tamari is umami incarnate: a concentrated blast of that “fifth taste” that makes meats and hard cheese so mouth-watering.

It took an intervention from my friend, Ben, to get me off the sauce. After eating endless tamari-spiked dishes from my kitchen, Ben began to comment on the tamari addiction. Considering that Ben is finishing up a Psy.D. in counseling, I am glad I took his observations seriously. Under Ben’s watchful eye, I finished up my last bottle and went cold turkey. I haven’t had it in the house for about a decade.

All that changed last week. How I came across this recipe is a fine example of social media. I am Facebook friends with my sister’s sister-in-law, Sarah, and a few weeks back, Sarah posted a question about purchasing some vegetables, and her friend, a perfect stranger to me, responded with this recipe.

It looked good. So good, in fact, that I wrote on Sarah’s wall, to her friend, that I was going to steal the recipe. I did not mention the part about posting it to my blog, but her friend encouraged me to do so, telling me it was the best salad dressing. Ever. The secret? My old friend, tamari. So, judging myself a decade older and wiser, it was off the wagon and off to the market.

Tamari, meet Tahini

And let me tell you, WOW, this dressing is fantastic. Rich hasn’t stopped eating salad all weekend long. I think I’ve counted him eating 7 separate servings of salad in a two-day period. Since I have never served Rich tamari before, he was blown away by the smooth, rich flavor of it. He could totally see why I had the addiction; low in calories and animal-free, tamari is pretty darn remarkable. Now I have a fresh bottle of it in the house, and I will work hard to make sure I don’t abuse it.

This is a pantry recipe if I’ve ever seen one. You really should have everything here on hand at all times in the house. I’m not very particular about my tahini brands; I’ve tried maybe 3 or 4, and there’s no one that really jumped out at me or I didn’t like. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, most people don’t, but it’s good idea to have a hunk of parmesan hang out in the fridge to top off pastas, risottos or in this case, for dressings. You can whisk this altogether in a bowl, but I wanted the smoothness of a blender. Either will work.

Ingredients

2/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or finely grated hard cheese)
1/4 cup tamari
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl or blend together in a blender. I served this with some crunchy romaine and crisp discs of cucumbers and radishes, simply because that’s what I had on hand in the fridge. I have a feeling this dressing will work with just about any vegetable, but use a stronger lettuce than say, mesclun.

For now, the leftover dressing is in a jar in the fridge. I’m not sure how long it stays, but I don’t think it’s going to be around for more than couple more days.

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11 thoughts on “Hello, Old Friend

  1. Molly, either you’re channeling me or I’m channeling you – but once again, a recipe that I’m swooning over . . . I have all these ingredients in the pantry (including an almost-done and NEW shaker of nutritional yeast – a staple in our house) and I’m making this as soon as I use up that other dressing I made this weekend w/tahini & honey – like I said, it’s like we have a blogger mind-meld or somethin’. Cheers!

  2. Sarah,
    I’m so happy that this one is another keeper. I think my next recipe is as far away as possible from nutritional yeast and healthy stuff, but it’s really, really good. I hope to have it up in the next few days. (Have to make it and photograph it first. 🙂

    • Bianca,
      This dressing is even more addictive than tamari on its own. I’ve never seen my husband so happy to see lettuce than when I got back from the market last night. In true stereoptypical form, instead of putting an empty milk carton back in the fridge, he put the empty jar of dressing back in the fridge last night! And thank you for stopping by and reading.
      Molly

  3. Combining the tamari and tahini was a great idea! I can see why it wouldn’t stick around long. And the nutritional yeast in place of parm is an interesting idea (I know you suggested parm as the substitution…). A good friend and frequent guest has a dairy allergy and so this widens the field of what I can serve her.

    • Hi Sarah,
      I write this blog for comments like yours. I am so so happy to know you’re enjoying the recipe. I think my next post is also going to be a salad dressing recipe. What can I say, I like my salads!
      Take care,
      Molly

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