Sautéed Kale with Tahini Sauce

Oh my, this is a good one. I never would have thought to pair kale with tahini (thank you to my friend Peg for the suggestion), but it’s great. Sort of reminiscent of a popular Japanese dish with spinach and sesame gomasio. The slightly bitter green kale does a happy dance with the acidic lemon and salty richness of the tahini sauce. Very easy to pull together. Would make an excellent addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday spread. Enjoy. (And as my dad says, eat your greens!)

Sautéed Kale with Tahini Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound kale, well rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • 4 Tbsp tahini (use tahini made with toasted sesame seeds, not raw)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3-4 Tbsp water
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Method

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1 Using a sharp paring knife, cut out the rib of each kale leaf. Discard or compost. Slice the leaves roughly 1/2-inch thick.

2 Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a large sauté pan. When hot, add the chopped onion. Cook for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

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3 Add the kale to the sauté pan. Even if you have a pretty large pan, the kale will be practically falling out of it. Put in as much as you can and use tongs to turn over and mix with the oil and onions. After a couple minutes the kale should wilt a bit so you can add the rest of the raw kale. Cook, turning the kale leaves over occasionally until the kales leaves have wilted and are tender. Sprinkle a little salt over the kale leaves while cooking.

4 While the kale is cooking, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and dark sesame oil. Add more salt and sesame oil to taste.

5 Once the kale is done, toss in the sauce, reserving a little to drizzle on top.

Serve, topped with a little sauce and toasted sesame seeds.

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26 Comments

  1. Angie

    Mmmm…we all love kale in this house (even the 3-year-old!). This sounds like a great combo of flavors–toasted nuts work so well with sauteed greens and I’m sure the toasted sesame seed flavor will pair equally well! Thanks for the great idea!

  2. Cecilia

    There is a recipe from Whole Foods that does this as a salad which I absolutely adore. I will try this as well. I love the Tuscan Kale in a pressure cooker with garlic, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes and low sodium organic chicken broth. After the pressure cooker gets up to speed, reduce it to medium for 45 minutes and you’ll have a velvety dish that you’ll be hard pressed to not finish in one sitting.
    Thanks so much!

  3. Becki's Whole Life

    I love Kale, but I think it really does need to be paired with something like this to take some of that bitterness away and also to wilt it a bit and break it down. This sounds wonderful…definitely going to try as I have some in my fridge and trying to eat more greens:-)

  4. brandi

    I’m putting this on my list right now. My husband loves kale if it’s seasoned really well, and I think he would love this!

    His other favorite is cooked with diced apple, red onion, dijon mustard, and maple syrup. So good!

  5. Kalyn

    Oh my. This recipe has so many of my favorite flavors. What a brilliant idea!

  6. Jackie

    This looks really interesting. We have some collards about ready in our garden, so I think I’ll try this with collard greens instead of kale. Maybe even for Thanksgiving…

  7. Katrina

    I still haven’t tried kale, but since it’s a superfood I need to hop on this train!

  8. Patty Schumacher

    sounds good. I usually saute my kale (ala 30 minute recipes from Moosewood cookbook) with crushed pineapple, onions, garlic, hot sauce and peanut butter!

  9. Lindsey

    This looks really good! Is there a way to make tahini? I always have sesame seeds on hand, but I have a hard time finding it and when I do, it’s so expensive that I can’t bring myself to buy it.

    Sure. To make a batch of tahini, lightly toast a cup of sesame seeds. Add them and a third a cup of olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until a paste forms. Add more olive oil and pulse until you reach the consistency of tahini you want. That’s it! ~Elise

  10. Cindy

    Do you think this recipe would work with spinach as well? (Have spinach from CSA box)

    Yes, I think it would work fine with spinach. Just don’t over-cook the spinach. ~Elise

  11. homegrown countrygirl

    What a great idea… kale and tahini sound like a natural pair! Thank you for sharing this!

  12. Paula

    LOVED THIS!!! I grew up eating something very simular. My Mom used escarole,(which my Dad pronounces “Shga-dole”)instead of kale and everything else was pretty much the same except instead of tahini she used pinenuts or raisins or both. It’s funny how changing the nut from sesame to pine changes the flavor from Asian to Sicilian. Either way I love dipping crusty bread into the “juice”. Thank you for your great recipies and CIAO!

  13. Martini-Corona

    My husband was in Peace Corps in Tanzania and he learned there to add a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter to cooking greens in a similar way. Cuts the bitterness and tastes delicious. This will be a good variation!

  14. almostveg

    I love kale – thanks for providing another way to eat it. Recently I added it to Chinese noodles since I had some leftover from a soup, and it was good there too. Quite a versatile green.

  15. Melissa S.

    This sounds great. I stumbled upon the great kale/tahini combination when I was rooting around in my fridge for something to top my baked sweet potato with. I often bake a few sweet potatoes on Sunday and then bring them for lunch during the work week. This particular time I topped it with garlicky kale and a drizzle of tahini and it was to die for! Will be trying your recipe soon.

  16. Liza

    This was delicious! I added some chopped yellow bell pepper into the saute which added some nice sweet notes, and I tossed in some chickpeas at the end and called it lunch. Thank you for a great recipe!

  17. Cheryl H

    Sounds just delicious, Elise! Thanks for another wonderful way to serve greens! Kale is one of my favorite foods & my fave way to prepare it developed as a diet dish when I was on a candida-busting diet: 1 head of turnip greens or bok choy, 1 head dinasaur or other kale, and sometimes 1/2 a bunch curly parsley. I chop all and cook in a little chicken broth, with 4 or 5 chopped garlic cloves, until all is wilted & soft–not much more than 5 min! Then I turn the stove off, stir in some chopped dandelion greens & cover for about 3-4 min. To each serving, I then add 2tsp flax or olive oil, about 1T chopped almonds, and sprinkle over the top 1T flax seeds (essential)that have been ground w a little wakame seaweed. Just delicious, IMHO,& my preferred breakfast for years, especially with a little added tofu.

    Isn’t flax oil great? This sounds terrific. Like the kind of food that my body craves after a little too much indulgence. ~Elise

  18. Andrea Lee

    Sounds great! My tahini is made from raw sesame seeds. Will this recipe still work? Any suggestions to tweak?
    Thank you!

    Great question. You really do want the roasted flavor. You might try it, but add a lot more dark sesame oil, until you get the rich roasted flavor for the sauce. Personally I don’t like the taste of raw sesame tahini. But maybe it will work if you add enough sesame oil. ~Elise

  19. Katie Mack

    I made this tonight…but I used Thai peanut sauce in place of tahini (that’s what I had in my fridge). Oh. My. Dear. Lord. I just ate a pound of kale by myself! I am a changed woman now! Great recipe.

    Oh, that would work. Totally. Great idea! ~Elise

  20. Cindy

    What brand of tahini do you recommend?

    Great question. I don’t really know. The current batch of tahini we are using we just made from scratch by puréeing roasted sesame seeds with a little olive oil. ~Elise

  21. John

    I made it tonight. It was so good! My 2 1/2 year old really like it.

  22. greentea

    Ive never cooked kale, but looks good. Must try soon. Oishisou (yummy!)

  23. beth

    when you say to use tahini made from toasted sesame seeds would tahini that says it’s made from dry roasted sesame seeds be the same thing?

    Yes. ~Elise

  24. christina

    Great idea just to toast some sesame seeds and puree. Elise, how much toasted sesame seeds do you use to get 4 tbsp of tahini?

    No idea. We just made a big batch of it. ~Elise

  25. Crystal

    Elise,
    OMG. I’m not much of a commenter, tho I’ve been reading for a while. This is INCREDIBLE!

    Kudos! I can’t get enough of the tahini+kale flavor, though it’s a combo I’ve never tasted before.

    WELL DONE!

    So glad you liked it Crystal! ~Elise

  26. molly

    I wrap the mid rib pieces in saran and freeze to dice later for soup…

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