Tahini Paste

By Jillian Bernardini - Jun 09, 2014 - 04:15 PM
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Think about tahini paste. Now think about that jar of tahini paste hidden in the back of your cupboard since the last time you made hummus or baba ghanoush for a friendly gathering. What else can this mysterious, sesame seed puree collaborate with in your culinary repertoire? I have a few new ideas for you that will break the typical Middle Eastern dip routine and show how lovely and versatile this paste can be!

Like I mentioned, tahini is an ingredient made from either hulled or not-hulled sesame seeds ground into a paste. The texture can be similar to an all natural nut butter, depending on the type of tahini that is found at the local grocer, where it  separates and needs to be vigorously stirred or shaken to incorporate. Check the ingredient list on the tahini paste jar to ensure that it is pure ground sesame seeds and no fillers or additives.

The flavor is milder than peanut butter, and tahini can carry a slightly roasted flavor profile to it, which makes it a dynamic base to different sauces, purees, and salad dressings. The consistency is ideal for creating a creamy condiment or dip that is also vegetarian and vegan friendly. John and I aren't huge fans of mayonnaise-based sauces, dressings, or dips, so tahini paste is great to shake up in a vinaigrette and toss with greens for a salad with full flavor and more natural, healthful fats.

Tahini paste can support stronger flavored ingredients like garlic, sesame oil, lemon juice, and other flavor profiles. Depending on the consistency preferred, adding a little water helps to thin out the paste and make it more pourable of a condiment as opposed to a spread or sauce.  Let me know your favorite way to use tahini paste, and here are a few more of mine:

  • replace mayonnaise or sour cream in a dressing
  • add a little water, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper to drizzle on a grain salad or falafel
  • stir in a few spoonfuls as a natural thickener for soups
  • make a creamy sesame oil and ginger dressing for an Asian inspired fish dish
  • swap out peanut butter and treat tahini paste like your favorite new nut butter
  • make a dipping sauce for a vegetable platter, or for serving with a grilled kabob medley
  • add a dollop to a smoothie or breakfast oatmeal bowl for an added protein boost