My idea of a real happy hour is sitting down with a cocktail and reading my newly arrived cooking magazines. Every now and then, when I get a little “too happy” and come across exotic ingredients that I haven’t tried before, I go on an uncontrollable Amazon shopping spree. Hmmm… this chef’s favorite ingredient is Harissa… I gotta try that! Yuzu? Sure I want to add a secret Japanese green paste to coat my chicken thighs with. Amazon easy 1 click, you just makes it so easy!
Days later, when a bunch of little packages arrive (though sometimes they can be of decent size… like when I ordered a chinois without realizing how gigantic they are) and Chris realizes he should’ve kept a closer watch on me last Friday afternoon when I made Margaritas and sprawled my cooking magazines out on the deck, I sit down to open my purchases like a 5 year old on Christmas morning.
Some of my new acquisitions don’t make it into my recipe rotation, while others, like organic Tahini, become a new obsession. I can’t believe it took me so long to try it! I’d had tahini salads, tahini hummus and used it as a dipping sauce in mediterranean restaurants plenty of times, but thought that it was some complex mixture of hard to find ingredients.
Turns out it’s just a simple sesame paste sold abundantly in local supermarkets (and Amazon) that you mix with water and other ingredients of choice to create a delicious, creamy sauce. And… it’s really healthy!
The first time I tried it, I couldn’t stop eating it raw, straight from the jar. It’s so yummy! Tastes a bit like peanut butter, but with more earthy nuttiness. Tahini is considered a nut butter and has pretty much the same carb to protein ratio as peanut butter does. It makes a perfect low carb addition to low Anchor meals.
This Tahini recipe is a great one to start with!
Delicious in salads like my Dandelion Spinach Salad with Tangelo, Avocado and Goat Cheese, or drizzled over my Pepper Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna — I love the combination of black pepper and the creamy tahini!
After trying a few different ingredient combinations, this one just hit it on the mark for me. Most recipes are pretty basic and consist mainly of water, salt, lemon and garlic. I like the addition of some honey for a touch of sweetness and the kick from some dijon mustard. I highly recommend making this in a large mason jar so that you have plenty of it to use over the few days. Drizzle over a cucumber tomato salad, dip some chicken in it or make hummus! (recipe soon to follow). Tahini is a definite pantry keeper in my kitchen. Still working on the Yuzu, which has been patiently waiting to be experimented with.
What is Tahini?
Tahini is simply a paste made from hulled and ground sesame seeds. The seeds are first soaked in water, then crushed to separate the
bran from the kernel. They are then placed in a new salt water bath, which allows the bran to separate and sink to the bottom. The kernels are then scooped out, toasted and ground into a paste. Tahini is a staple in North African, Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine, where it is used as a dip for meats and vegetables and is a key ingredient in hummus. In Turkish cooking, it is also used as an ingredient in various sweet recipes.
Raw Tahini, which can be quite thick, is commonly thinned with water and flavored with salt, garlic and lemon juice. There are many other ingredient options (mustard, honey, vinegar etc…) that complement the neutral and nutty flavor of tahini as well.
The earliest historical mention of the word Tahini is in a 13th century Arabic cookbook where it was used in a recipe called “Hummus Kasa”, though the cultivation of sesame seeds dates back as far as 3500 years ago in the Ancient Iraq region, where they were used as a source of oil.
Tahini has many nutritional health benefits. It is lower in sugar and saturated fats than peanut butter, has a high calcium and fiber content, which makes it a wonderful addition to any diet, especially a vegan or vegetarian one. It’s also loaded with healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 2 tbs Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 2 tbs Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 to 2 tsp honey
- 1 tbs dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- fresh black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously. If the dressing looks too thick, add another tablespoon of water, if it looks a bit runny, add a little more tahini until a nice and creamy consistency. Add more salt if desired and serve.