Creamy Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Tahini Dressing

Creamy Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Tahini Dressing

Hey all! Hope your weekends were relaxing, and that you managed to avoid some of the arctic chill we’re seeing here in DC (and, from what I hear, all over the Northeast). Mine was filled with the usual melee of studying, blog work, yoga, gym, and food. Food, of course, was the main highlight!

I’ve hit that peculiar moment in the heart of winter–and it happens every year–when I start crave raw fruits and vegetables with a fervor. I’ve always wondered why this happens, and I have yet to come up with any kind of scientific answer. I suspect it’s simply my body’s way of screaming out against months of indoor heating, classrooms lit up with the sounds of winter coughs, and abbreviated outdoor walks, and begging for the fresh, crisp tastes of warmer months. Raw foods always exist in a balance with cooked ones for me, but I do love to indulge these seasonal cravings with all the blended greens and salads I can handle.

Starting here. This isn’t a salad recipe, but rather a dressing recipe–which is really like many salad recipes delivered to you at once. Dressings are one of the cornerstones of my weekly food prep routine. Why? Because a good dressing can be key to eating lots, and lots, and lots of vegetables. You can dipped steamed veggies into it if you’re craving warm food, smother your nutrient dense salads, and use it to dip raw veggies as a snack. To say nothing of how easily you can slather a dressing on a raw or cooked sandwich. The possibilities abound.

This dressing grew out of my passion for this spice:


That’s smoked paprika, which is one of my favorite spice rack staples. It’s just regular paprika that has been smoked in oak, and it takes on a very distinctive, smoky aroma and taste. I like using it in place of liquid smoke when I need to create a “smoky” flavor in vegan dishes (traditionally, of course, various meats are used to do just that). It’s not inexpensive, but you can find good deals on Amazon, and a little goes a very long way.

Take this dressing: only 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika takes a red pepper and chickpea medley to a new place. The recipe—a creamy blend of red pepper, chickpeas, tahini, and lemon—needs very little improvement in the taste department, so the paprika is optional. But if you can manage to find some, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me on this one. You can leave the red pepper raw if you like, or roast it, which will enhance the smoky flavor.

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Smoky Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Tahini Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup chickpeas
1 cup chopped red pepper (roasted red pepper would be great here, too)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tahini
Juice of 2 small lemons
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Blend all ingredients together on high till creamy and smooth.

Serve over salad of choice. Mine was cucumber, tomato, jicama, pepper, chickpeas, and a heap of raw hemp and vegetable crackers (homemade).

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So what made this salad appropriately meal sized? Well, let’s look at our macronutrient groups. Protein? Hemp and chickpeas fit the bill. Carbs? Legumes provide starch and energy. Healthy fat? Tahini and hemp step in. And since we were just talking about Omega 6’s and 3’s, it’s worth pointing out that both are present in this meal—6’s in the tahini, 3’s in the flax and hemp in my crackers. A nicely balanced plate!

And here’s another one, also from the weekend:

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Sweet potato rounds over hemp bread with tahini dressing, along with a fresh vegetable and green salad topped with mashed turnips.

And the weekend also involved quite a bit of this:


My usual green lemonade recipe of:

1 green apple
1 inch knob ginger
5 large stalks celery
1 cucumber
1 large handful parsley
5 stalks kale
1/2 lemon, skin cut off

Always refreshing and delicious as an afternoon snack! Or anytime snack. The ginger and lemon tend to be just the pick me up I need when I’m tempted to hit the “on” switch on my coffee maker for the second time in a day. Committed though I may be to my morning Joe, fresh, nutrient rich juice is so much more sustaining as an energy source.

That’s about it for now, folks—biochem calls. Hope you all love this dressing as much as I instantly did, and that your Mondays get off to a good start!!


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Categories: Dressings
Ingredients: Chickpeas

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  1. I just made this dressing with oven-roasted red peppers. I’m blown away. I need to keep myself from eating the whole batch with a spoon. Absolutely delicious. I ended up boosting the lemon juice just a little bit, but this is the kind of dressing I need to get me excited about eating salad. Tomorrow’s lunch is going to be amazing.

    Thanks, Gena!

  2. Just had to pop over to say I absolutely loved this dressing! I used it on salads all week. Today I had some left & some greens beans lingering from my CSA box. I tossed the dressing, green beans & frozen corn in a hot skillet for a bit & it made a wonderful hot dish too.

  3. Made this tonight and LOVED it! I was even eating it by the spoonful long after my salad was gone. Thanks and keep the great recipes coming. I may become 100% vegan yet – you’re convincing me that it’s a pretty pleasant route to take (my family still isn’t quite sure what’s going on with all of these interesting new recipes…!)

  4. This is a great-looking recipe – it’s hard to beat something with such a short ingredient list of delicious ingredients. Smoked paprika is love. I think it’s funny how seemingly backwards you are in the winter compared to everyone else who swears by lots of warm, hearty foods, but your reasoning does make a lot of sense. It’s easy to get sick and not feel your best when you’re cooped up indoors with a bunch of other people for several months at a time, so it’s probably wise to load up on the greenery!

  5. It’s like red pepper hummus in a dressing – couldn’t ask for anything better! Making this soon. Quick question re: peppers, I’ve heard that green ones aren’t ripe – is that true?

  6. This looks SO yummy! My mom will really want to try this one out too, I am sure. LOVE that you used smoked paprika, becoming quite the gourmand!

  7. I am trying to go more low-key with my meals, too.. focusing on tasty dressings with fresh veggies. This looks like the next one I will try! Thanks Gena! 🙂

  8. Three of my favorite foods in one dressing? I die. Sounds so good. I never thought to blend beans in a dressing…interesting!

  9. i’ll have to try that green juice. i have juiced every single day the month of january! i save the pulp and make crackers or mix it with an avocado or mustard based dressing + poached salmon or something so i don’t waste the veg i buy for the juicer. it’s working out really well and my mother told me my skin was glowing a couple days ago. this is bizarre but i stopped taking birth control just before christmas and have had hardly any breakouts at all?! i broke out more ON the pill than without it?! what is up with that hah?

    totally agree that a dressing can make veggies go down so easy! i don’t think i could eat a green salad naked lol.

  10. I just made this, it’s delicious! I looove smoked paprika too. I’m always looking to change up my salad dressings and I actually had all these ingredients on hand when you posted this. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. That dressing is so pretty! There’s a lot of truth to “you digest with your eyes first.” A pretty dressing makes a salad even more attractive.

  12. This sounds amazing! And the color of the dressing is just beautiful. Not only did this get me craving some fresh salad, but I want those homemade raw crackers you have on the side!

  13. I love smoked paprika too (shocking). Dressing sounds great and that last salad looks like my perfect meal!

  14. juice sounds good!
    as I cannot handle fructose and thus apples, my own variation is fennel, lemon, ginger, zucchini-juice. sooo good!

  15. Normally a warm winter vegetables in winter kind of gal, I’ve been scarfing giant salads over the weekend and counting the days until tomatoes taste good again. It’s not particularly cold here, but I think this need for cold, crunchy veggies in the middle of winter is caused by the same compulsion to start roasting squash before before September hits…
    Question: How long will the dressing last?

  16. Love the recipe! I need to make some chickpeas this week just to make this dressing.

    The green lemonade must be perfect on a cold day. The lemon and ginger is so warming!

  17. Perfect! I might be making this this week, since I have all of this on hand.

    I’m also interested in the hemp crackers/bread. Do you have a recipe?! I’m still staring at a bunch of hemp I just bought on Amazon…

  18. Oooh, I look all mysterious ‘n’ stuff with my one letter name there. Well done me with the computer literacy.

  19. Gena you fabulous psychic woman you. I was just thinking that I was going to poke through your blog to find a dressing recipe (I’m trying to get myself into a dressing-on-salad state of mind, and you exist as my Queen for recipes in this regard), and here you are, offering a new recipe with ingredients I almost have entirely in my kitchen already. To the shops for capsicum with me!

    Tomorrow, that is. Because it’s night-time right now, and I’m too scared of gremlins to walk to the shops at 10pm.

  20. Perfect! Seeing me latest addiction to tahini I can’t wait to try this dressing! Have a great week Gena! x

  21. Isn’t smoked paprika one of the most amazing spices ever? I have become completely obsessed with it, as well. Such a lovely smokey flavor! And tahini dressing is pretty wonderful, too…

    Good luck with the biochem.

  22. Green lemonade, love it! I however cannot hang with celery in juice. If I put it in, that’s ALL I taste. But gosh it’s so vibrant and pretty, I want it, celery and all 🙂

    That, and the dressing. I am a major condiment-junkie. And it looks great.

    • I’m the opposite! I love celery in my juice and often request extra. But we are both condiment junkies 😉

  23. I get the midwinter craving thing. I just went through a few mangoes myself! I agree with you though, I think it’s all about rebellion. My body is in denial and is attempting to boycott winter.
    That dressing looks fabulous. I actually don’t like tahini on its own, but it’s a really good dressing base as long as I flavor it enough to hide the bitterness. I think this will work out nicely!

  24. You made a comment about “lemon and ginger” after your green lemonade recipe, but I don’t see any lemon in the recipe…I’m assuming you probably forgot to include it in the recipe? If so, how much do you usually use? I’m always looking for new juice recipes or different proportions of already favorite ones.

  25. Just dug out my juicer after moving house actually, my new favourite is celery and ginger mixed with my home brew kombucha.

    Really need to get myself some of that smoked paprika… the dressing sounds delicious; great colour too!

  26. I came for the dressing, I stayed for the green lemonade. Both look vibrant and delicious; I totally hear you on needing an antidote to recycled, stale air and fluorescent lights.

  27. Wow! This is exactly what I needed; a husband who loves smoked paprika + a fridge full of vegies needing to be eaten fast means this recipe makes everyone happy in my house. 🙂

  28. yum – looks awesome! I love hearing about new ways to spruce up my salads, nutritionally and taste-wise, and it’s so true that a dressing can make all the difference. I’m in a bit of a dressing rut so I can’t wait to try!

  29. I was JUST looking for a decent dressing when this popped up on my feed! Yum and thank you. 🙂

  30. That green juice sounds sooo good right now. I thought about juicing at least 5 different times this weekend but laziness won out after thinking about the clean up that ensues after every juice session.