If you’ve got a jar of tahini going stale in the fridge, you’re missing out on all kinds of delicious flavor combinations that can make your meals special. As earthy as tahini is (or as we say in the Middle East, techinah) the semi-solid paste brightens up with lemon, garlic, herbs and spices. It’s great as a dip, but here are some new and surprising ways to eat tehini.
1. As halvah desert
2. Tehini cookies
3. In baba ganoush
4. Spread on fish
5. Drizzle over BBQ skewers of meat or vegetables
6. On kebabs
7. On rice pilaf
8. For creamy smoothies
Halvah lovers know that tahini has a sweet face too. We recently enjoyed a light dessert created by chef Moshe Basson of Jerusalem, who squirted alternating threads of tahini and silan date honey onto a plate to form a pretty pattern and a delicious treat.
And if you’ve never baked our techinah cookies, well, you’re in for a delightful surprise.
Tahini has a particular affinity for eggplant. Dining in the Middle East, you’ll enjoy salads like Baba Ganoush (recipe below). And a simple grilled eggplant drizzled with olive oil becomes a feast with a good dollop of tahini on the side. Chopped tomatoes and herbs round the dish out, and then all you need is good bread or a hot pita.
How to make tehini as a dip:
You’ll want to brighten your tahini with lemon juice, a little crushed garlic, salt, and if you like, a little cayenne. Thin it to your liking with water – but beware: when first adding water, it looks like it won’t incorporate. Then all of a sudden, your tahini paste has gone liquid. Add water slowly, stopping once you’re satisfied with the taste and texture.
Now that you have seasoned tahini, try drizzling it over these hot dishes, just before serving:
- grilled fish
- grilled kebabs, either meat or vegetable skewers
- quinoa pilaf
A typical Middle Eastern way of serving lamb kebabs is to surround them with humus and drizzle tahini over them.
Tahini seasoned as above makes a fine, simple dip for raw vegetable sticks.
Can you do anything with the floating layer of oil in a fresh jar of tahini? Sure. Skim it off and use instead of peanut oil in stir- fries. You don’t need much to add a subtle, nutty flavor to the dish.
Tahini substitutes for peanut butter in many recipes. Consider making your next smoothie creamy with a teaspoon or two of plain tahini.
Savory sweet, tahini adds a healthy dose of minerals, especially calcium, to your daily fare. It is rich, but sesame oil, unlike many other fats, has no cholesterol. So get that poor jar out of the fridge and put it to work for you.
More about tahini
Photos by Miriam Kresh.