With all the rich, hearty dishes that the colder months bring, it’s nice to have something bright and refreshing to remind us what fresh produce tastes like. This crisp fall green salad, from Whitney Otawka’s The Saltwater Table, is just that: light, crunchy and full of seasonal flavors, but with a Southern twist.
“Benne seed is sesame, and sesame is benne, for all practical purposes,” Otawka writes. “But it is important to note that even this humble little seed can taste different based on quality. If you find ‘benne’ seeds, odds are you are getting an heirloom variety.”
If you only have sesame seeds available, they’ll work in a pinch, but for the most authentic (and delicious) results, benne seeds are worth seeking out. “Anson Mills is my favorite producer of benne seeds,” Otawka says. “These plump little seeds have a pleasant nuttiness and a perfect little pop when eaten. I have been known to eat toasted benne by the spoonful.”
The dressing comes together easily in a blender, and its bright, complex flavor pairs fabulously with the bitter salad greens. And here we thought salads were just for summer.
From The Saltwater Table by Whitney Otawka, published by Abrams Books © 2019.
17 Fall Salads You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less
Benne Seed Ginger Dressing
1½ tablespoons minced ginger
¼ cup (15g) chopped scallion
½ clove garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons benne seeds, toasted
¼ cup (60ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon honey
¾ cup (180ml) grapeseed oil
Salad and Assembly
1 bunch baby kale, bottom of stems removed
1 bunch dandelion greens, bottom of stems removed
1 head of lettuce, leaves separated
8 baby carrots, peeled if needed, thinly shaved on a mandoline
1 kohlrabi, peeled, thinly shaved on a mandoline
5 Brussels sprouts, thinly shaved on a mandoline
Pinch of flaky sea salt
1 cup (240ml) benne seed ginger dressing
1. Make the Dressing: Put the ginger, scallion, garlic, benne seeds, vinegar, soy sauce and honey in a blender and puree until smooth. With the blender running on low speed, slowly add the grapeseed oil. The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.
2. Assemble the Salad: Wash and dry the kale, dandelion greens and lettuce. Transfer the greens to a serving bowl. Top the greens with the carrots, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle the salt over the salad. Toss the salad with the benne seed dressing in the bowl, or serve it on the side.