Turn salad into a treat with dressings: Almond, tahini, blue cheese

By Evan Kleiman

This kale salad features parmigiano, avocado, cilantro, fresh herbs, and sweet-spicy almond vinaigrette from Jame Enoteca in El Segundo. Photo by Jakob Layman.

I imagine the majority of us overindulged during the Super Bowl weekend, so it’s time to reel our eating back in line. A big bowl of salad can be a great transition from a momentary fall into a vat of fat. A good dressing can make that bowl craveable. 

A few weeks ago, I reached out on social media to ask what your favorite restaurant dressings are. It wasn’t much of a surprise to hear that blue cheese dressing was the winner. When we go out, we tend to splurge with items we don’t make at home. It’s hard to beat the umami-filled sharpness of a good blue cheese. Other dressings with a thicker texture were also popular, including ranch and Green Goddess.

But there were some surprises, like almond vinaigrette from Chef Jackson Kalb at Jame Enoteca, and several mentions of various tahini-based dressings. Both almond and tahini dressings use the protein of nuts and seeds to satisfy the appetite. I reached out to Chef Jasmine Shimoda of Jewel in Silver Lake for the tahini dressing. 

But if you want to splurge at home, blue cheese dressing is so easy to make. Although the classic version is made creamy with copious amounts of mayonnaise and heavy cream, it’s common to lighten it up by substituting yogurt or buttermilk instead. And don’t forget that you can always get that umami hit of cheese by simply adding blue, roquefort or gorgonzola to your favorite oil or vinegar-based vinaigrette. Or if you’re in a time crunch, you can always buy Trader Joe’s Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing & Dip or Bob’s Famous Blue Cheese Dressing & Dip.

Chef Jackson Kalb’s Almond Vinaigrette from Jame Enoteca


For Almond dressing: 

  • 1 tbl honey 
  • 2 tbl smooth dijon mustard
  • 2-3 ea garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tbl champagne vinegar
  • 1 dash cayenne
  • Salt, to taste
  • Tamari or soy sauce, to taste
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp roasted almond oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roasted, cooled, chopped

For kale salad:

  • 4 cups green kale, destemmed, finely chopped by hand
  • 1/2 avocado chopped into ½” dice
  • 1/2 cup green cabbage, chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup savoy cabbage, chiffondade
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (use soft herbs here - cilantro, chives, thai basil, mint, tarragon etc.)
  • 2-3 tsp chopped green chili (use jalapeno, serrano, or Thai chili depending on heat preference)
  • 2-3 tbl parmigiano reggiano or grana padano, finely shredded
  • 2 tbl almonds, roasted, cooled, chopped


  1. Combine all ingredients except oil and almonds in a bowl. Whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the oils into the bowl in a steady stream. Stir in almonds. Season with salt and tamari.
  2.  For the salad, combine all ingredients except cheese and almond. Toss to combine and dress salad. Use as much or as little dressing as you prefer. Top with cheese and almonds.

Chef Jasmine Shimoda’s tahini citrus dressing from Jewel

This kale salad features a tahini dressing from Jasmine Shimoda of Jewel in Silver Lake. Photo by Stef Etow.


  • 1⁄2 cup tahini
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • Grated zest of one Meyer lemon, lime or tangerine
  • 1⁄4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1⁄2 fresh serrano chile (optional)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Puree everything in a high-speed blender until smooth then season with additional salt to taste if necessary.