This tatsoi recipe uses purple tatsoi greens in a simple salad with fresh pea shoots and clementines tossed in a creamy lemon tahini dressing.
Have you heard of tatsoi before?
Prior to last year, I hadn’t. But then a friend got some in her CSA box and I became aware of this lovely spinach-like Asian green.
So when planting time for the garden came around a few weeks ago and I saw my local nursery had tatsoi starters, I grabbed a pack!
After wormageddon last year on pretty much half of the things I planted, I decided this year was going to be solely greens. I hate worms with a passion.
So for 2021, I’ve got three raised beds of solely different types of lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens, arugula, Swiss chard and now tatsoi greens as well.
Tatsoi comes in both green and purple and because I always gravitate towards color, I picked up the purple variety.
The top of the leaves are a gorgeous midnight purple color while the underside is green.
Both varieties taste the same so you can make this tatsoi salad with either one.
WHAT IS TATSOI?
Tatsoi is a member of the brassica family. You know the one, same fam as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens.
Techincally it’s the Brassica rapa subsp. narinosa or Brassica rapa var. rosularis (thank you, Wikipedia) but no need to get super technical.
Unlike many of the other brassica vegetables however, tatsoi (or tat choy as it’s sometimes called) is more “leafy” in nature.
Its rounded leaves are sort of spoon shaped and fun.
If you’re into plants, they remind me of pilea peperomioides (or the Chinese money plant). It’s one of my favorite indoor plants and so tatsoi has sort of stepped into its place in my outdoor garden.
Besides tatsoi and tat choy, other names include: Chinese flat cabbage, spoon mustard, spinach mustard or, rosette pakchoi.
It’s a horse of many colors with names but most markets and stores will call it tatsoi if you’re on the hunt for some.
WHAT DOES TATSOI TASTE LIKE?
Chances are even if this Asian green sounds totally foreign to you, you’ve probably had it before in a mixed greens blend.
It’s very akin to spinach both in flavor and texture. The biggest difference in my opinion is when eaten raw, it doesn’t leave that chalky film in your mouth spinach does.
It’s very mild in taste and works wonderfully in salads like this simple tatsoi salad today. Although, it can be sautéed (and I plan to do that soon like my simple sautéed Swiss chard recipe), used in a stir fry or mixed into soups too.
Basically, it can be used any way you’d normally use spinach.
Some compare it to a milder cousin of bok choy and while I can see that a bit too but I think spinach is a better comparison.
WHERE TO FIND TATSOI GREENS
Your best bet in locating tatsoi greens is probably a farmer’s market. I haven’t often seen it in grocery stores except for Whole Foods here and there.
A mainstream grocery store is almost guaranteed not to have it but a local Asian foods store likely will.
The other option is to grow your own if you have a garden, even a small one! It’s an easy plant to grow and matures relatively quickly.
The leaves can be harvested one at a time from the bottom up so the plant continues to grow the whole season versus cutting the entire plant for a single use.
If you can’t find tatsoi, good substitutions are spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, or even baby bok choy.
My baby bok choy salad recipe is another way I love eating raw Asian greens!
HOW TO STORE TATSOI
If you’re able to find it, best practice for keeping tatsoi fresh is to store it with a damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Wash it well before use just like any other green.
TATSOI NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS
I’m sure I don’t have to spell it out for you but of course tatsoi is good for you, it’s a green!
I haven’t yet met one that isn’t!
In particular, it’s high in vitamin C, calcium, potassium folate and carotenoids.
It packs more vitamin C than an orange and you know all the milk commercials touting calcium?
Well, most leafy green vegetables like tatsoi are way more loaded with calcium than milk. #themoreyouknow
INGREDIENTS FOR THIS TATSOI SALAD RECIPE
The greens are what shine in this salad. There’s nothing complicated and the ingredient list is short to prove it.
Tatsoi salad ingredients:
- purple or green tatsoi leaves
- fresh pea shoots (or any other green shoot or sprout)
- 1 clementine or other segmented citrus fruit
- sesame seeds
- creamy tahini (<– the best and only tahini I buy any more)
- lemon juice
- salt & pepper
I love having fresh pea shoots on hand for salads but any green shoot or something like baby watercress is a great substitute. Mizuna lettuce is a nice variation too and mild in flavor.
You can also use sprouts instead like broccoli sprouts, radish sprouts, or a sprout blend.
This tahini lemon dressing is something I make a variation of almost daily.
From a salad dressing, to a sauce for smothering chicken, fish or meat to a dip for veggies, there’s pretty much nothing this dressing isn’t good for.
I even made a garlic herb tahini dressing way back in the day before tahini was even having its moment!
I make slight adjustments based on the recipe but the base is always the same. If it ain’t broke…
I love it with the tatsoi greens here as it brings some life to the mild flavored salad greens and the sweetness from the clementines balances the bitterness of the tahini beautifully.
HOW TO MAKE PURPLE TATSOI SALAD
To make this tatsoi salad, simply combine the greens and clementines in a large salad bowl.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl or jar and add the water until your desired consistency.
Pour the tahini dressing mixture over the salad greens and toss until well combined.
Garnish with black and white sesame seeds and serve.
The salad is best served fresh while the greens are still vibrant and firm. After it sits dressed for awhile they’ll start to wilt.
If you want to prep ahead, don’t dress the salad until it’s about to be served for the best taste and texture.
OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY TATSOI
Once the garden gets going (this was my first harvest!) if last year is any indication, I know I’ll be inundated with greens from mid June through August.
It’s a good problem to have so I’m not complaining but I am preparing!
I also make lots of what I call “skillet mixes” which usually consist of a bunch of veggies, some sort of meat or bean and then baby greens stirred in at the end.
Sometimes I add cauliflower gnocchi or pasta to the skillet, other times, we eat it alone but either way, I see tatsoi being the perfect baby green to throw into these easy dinners!
This is also such a unique recipe that uses that tatsoi flowers specifically! It’ll be a fun one to try when the plant flowers later in the season.
Admittedly, this is a simple salad.
The tatsoi shines and while it’s perfect as is for a light salad or side dish to a larger meal, you can easily turn it into a meal by itself with the following variations:
- Add shelled edamame or hemp hearts.
- Garnish with sliced almonds, cashews or other nuts.
- Include additional fruit like berries or kiwis.
- Top with a more satisfying protein like crispy air fryer tofu or marinated baked tempeh.
Purple Tatsoi Salad Recipe
- 1 bunch tatsoi purple or green
- 1 packed cup pea shoots or other green sprout/shoot
- 1 clementine peeled and divided into segments
- white and black sesame seeds
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons creamy tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- Place the tatsoi greens, pea shoots and clementine segments in a large bowl.
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing except the water in a small bowl. Slowly add the water while whisking until preferred dressing consistency.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until combined.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.