This recipe makes over the classic Cobb Salad to be completely dairy free and Whole30 friendly! Topped with irresistibly rich and creamy lemon tahini dressing, this will be one of your go-to favorite dinner recipes!
Yes, I know this is a baking blog, and that there has been a suspicious lack of sugar lately.
Do I still need to start savory posts like this, or are we all on board with this whole “we need to eat real meals whether we like it or not so at least let’s make it enjoyable” thing? Yeah? Cool.
And if you’re not immediately reaching for a jar of tahini to jazz up your meals, I have news for you: you’re missing out.
It’s no secret that I am a sucker for a cobb salad.
Like carrot cake, smoked salmon, and olives, cobb salad is a dish that I hated my whole life until I woke up one morning and thought it sounded amazing. I think it had something to do with evolving into a stinky-cheese-lover. But that’s not the point.
The point is that this is a really delicious salad, modified and evolved to use better-quality ingredients and, most importantly, to be dairy free and Whole30 compliant.
How to Make a Cobb Salad
A cobb salad is usually made with some sort of salad greens with tomato, bacon, chicken, hard boiled eggs, avocado, and blue (or another stinky) cheese. Chop it all up and arrange all the topping artfully on top of the greens, then drizzle with a dressing that is worthy of the contents of the salad. That’s it!
It’s a very hearty salad, and a meal in and of itself – which is why I love it.
So, in itself, it’s pretty close to being paleo and Whole30 friendly, with a few tweaks:
- Cheese isn’t paleo or Whole30 friendly, so I replaced it with marinated artichoke hearts.
- Make sure the chicken marinade is Whole30 friendly.
- Use a sugar-free and preservative/nitrate-free bacon. There are plenty of Paleo/Whole30-compliant bacon options on the market.
Once you’re done throwing together this salad, you’ll be practically drooling as you wait to dig in.
The best part of this salad, though, hands down is the tahini dressing.
Tahini, which is the rich and runny product of grinding sesame seeds until they release all their fragrant oils and turn into a pourable seed butter, makes the perfect fatty, creamy, base for thick salad dressings and marinades.
You probably only know this middle eastern sesame paste as that flavor that makes hummus, well, hummus – but don’t sell tahini short. It is incredible versatile, and can be used for so much more than as the supporting case of a chickpea dish.
Pure tahini, made from high quality toasted sesame seeds, and maybe a pinch of salt (but nothing else!), is not only an indispensable ingredient for Whole30 recipes, but it is nut free – so those of you who adamantly told me in my recent Instagram poll that you have a hard time finding tree-nut-free paleo recipes, this one is for you!
You can get good quality tahini at grocery stores or health food stores like Whole Foods, on online at Amazon. My favorite brand is Soom, but use whatever you can find, as long as it is made from nothing more than sesame seeds and salt, and has the pourable consistency of natural peanut butter at the top of the jar.
The dressing itself is also gluten free, paleo, dairy free, and vegan (although the salad itself is not vegan!). So feel free to make a double batch and use it on other salads, as a marinade, or as a dip.
How to Make Tahini Dressing
The tahini dressing is the easiest part of this simple salad. You’ll need to round up:
- That good quality tahini we’ve been talking about
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Sumac, cumin, fine sea salt, and black pepper
- Up to 1/4 cup water, as needed to thin it out to your desired consistency
Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and give it a whirl. You’ll know it’s done when it’s well-mixed and thin enough to pour.
If it’s too thick to pour, add up to 1/4 cup of water, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the consistency you’re looking for.
This dressing is so versatile! In addition to dressing salads, you can use it for:
- Drizzling over buddha bowls
- Tossing with kale or spinach chips before you bake them
- Dipping sweet potato fries into, instead of ketchup
And much more!
How to Make Tahini Dip Instead
But wait, there’s more!
No, but for real, this is the most versatile recipe ever.
Let’s say you’re making a mediterranean mezze plate full of crunchy veggies, gluten free pita chips, and maybe some mini falafels (just, you know, for example, but if you do make this for a party, please invite me, ok?). What will you dip everything in?
You’d be really up a creek if not for – yep! – tahini dip!
What is tahini dip, you ask? It’s just tahini dressing with a few adaptations to make it thicker and more dippable than pourable.
Top it with a sprinkle of fresh minced parsley, or omit the savory spices and add a few tablespoons of maple syrup for a sweet version that you can use to dip fruit, cookies, and gluten free graham crackers.
I’ve included this adaptation in the notes below the lemon tahini dressing recipe.
No matter what variation you go with, I hope you enjoy it!
For the salad
- 10-15 cups mixed baby greens
- 2 ripe avocados, pitted and sliced
- 1 large english cucumber, sliced
- 1 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, washed and sliced
- 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 6-8 strips cooked sugar-free and nitrate-free bacon, cooled and chopped
- 3-5 grilled chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper (or a Whole30 compliant seasoning mix), cubed
For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain tahini
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Generous pinch ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup water, or more or less, as needed to achieve desired consistency
- Assemble the salads by dividing the baby greens between 5 bowls. Top with the reminding salad ingredients.
- Puree all dressing ingredients in a small blender, or whisk vigorously until an emulsion (thick, creamy texture and uniform consistency) forms. Thin with water, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, if desired to reach preferred consistency.
- Drizzle dressing over salad immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- You can use avocado oil in place of olive oil, if you prefer.
- To make a sandwich spread: Omit the water and reduce the oil to 2-3 tablespoons (to your preference).
- To make tahini dip: Reduce water to 2 tablespoons, and use 2 tablespoons avocado oil instead of 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. To make a sweet dip, omit water, sumac, cumin, and black pepper, and add 1/4 cup of maple syrup, or to taste.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Salads Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2258Total Fat: 71gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 1909mgCarbohydrates: 348gFiber: 238gSugar: 33gProtein: 162g