How to Use Tahini

Tahini is attracting more and more attention. It may just be a simple paste made from sesame seeds, but it is a key ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and people are finding some truly creative uses for it in their cooking. Outside of the Middle East, tahini first started to become popular in the UK and the craze has since spread to the US where tahini has become the subject of numerous popular cookbooks.

What is tahini?

It is best to think of tahini as sesame butter. If you are buying high quality tahini, then there should be just one ingredient listed, roasted sesame seeds. The taste is not as sweet as that of most nut butters, and many people use it in the same way as they would peanut butter, or even just eat it straight off a spoon. Tahini is a core ingredient in numerous foods, such as hummus, baba ghanoush, and halva, a Middle Eastern confection.

You should have absolutely no problem buying tahini at most large grocery stores. There are many excellent brands and you may also come across some premium brands that take it to the next level. In addition to plain tahini, you can also find smoked versions, beet flavoured tahini, and far more.

How to Cook with Tahini

You don’t really need to cook with tahini, you could just eat it straight out of a jar or spread it on bread. However, it is very versatile, and as already noted, it is a vital part of hummus, together with chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice. Here are some further ideas for what you can do with tahini.

Tahini Salad Dressing

If you have a good vinaigrette, then you will need an emulsifier to hold it together. Many people use Dijon mustard for this; however, it is also possible to use tahini. The result is a nuttier dressing that tastes fantastic with greens. You can easily find recipes for tahini salad dressing, most of which include lemon and garlic, and it can truly transform a salad.

Tahini Brownies

There are a huge number of tahini brownie recipes around but even if you don’t follow one of them, you can simply mix a few tablespoons of tahini with maple syrup or agave nectar to make a topping for your favourite brownies. After pouring your brownie batter into a pan, simply spoon the paste on to the top of it and swirl it around before placing it in the oven for baking.

Tahini Sauce

If you enjoy the taste of roasted vegetables such as cauliflower or aubergine then you will love them once you have added some tahini sauce on top. Have a look around for roasted cauliflower with tahini recipes, or any other vegetable of your choice. Tahini sauce isn’t limited to vegetables, you can also use it on chicken and more. Once you start experimenting, you are sure to have plenty of ideas of your own.

Tahini Smoothies

Another great feature of tahini is that it is a good source of protein, iron and fibre. This makes it the perfect ingredient for a morning smoothie. You can add frozen bananas, pitted dates, and almond or soy milk to get your day off to a great start.

Tahini Ice Cream

This may sound strange, but there is a fantastic three-ingredient recipe for tahini ice cream from The Chatelaine Kitchen. To make it you will need:

  • 1 cup 35% cream
  • 1/2 300-mL can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2-4 tbsp tahini

Then all you need to do is beat the cream in a medium bowl using an electric mixer on medium until soft peaks form, which should only take 2 to 4 minutes. Then reduce the speed to low and beat in the sweetened condensed milk and tahini until they are just combined. The mixture should be smooth and fluffy. All that is left is to put it in a re-sealable container and freeze for 6 hours.

Tarator Sauce

Not many people have heard of Tarator sauce, but it is an excellent multipurpose sauce that is particularly tasty for dipping grilled chicken or steamed vegetables, and of course, it can be made with tahini. Simply add 4 cloves of minced garlic to 1⁄2 cup of tahini, 1⁄2 cup of lemon juice, and 1⁄4 of cup parsley then pulse it in a food processor until it is combined. You are sure to be thrilled with the results.

Double Sesame Burgers

We have all eaten sesame buns at one point or another, but you can add tahini into the mix for the double sesame effect. Tahini goes brilliantly as a condiment on meats; either used straight or enhanced with a bit of lemon juice and smoked paprika. Simply spread it on your burger and possibly add some feta cheese and cucumbers for the complete Mediterranean themed double sesame burger.

Pasta Salad

You probably use mayonnaise on your pasta salad, but if you want a change, then you can replace it with tahini. Tahini can add an excellent texture to pasta salad; it coats it well without becoming overly heavy. It also goes nicely with lemon and vinegar. Best of all, it is suitable for all diets, so everyone at the table should be happy.

Add Tahini to Soup

May people will blend tahini into gazpacho. The idea sounds a bit random but it produces a lovely silky texture, not to mention a fantastic taste. However, you can also add it to tomato soup, red lentil soup and sweet potato bisque, all of which will be enhanced by the sesame butter.

Many More Uses

As you experiment and explore, you will come across many more uses for tahini. It can be used to make vegan caramel sauce, added to curries, stews, your banking, and much more. Next time you are thinking of a way to liven up a dish or bring in a new dimension, perhaps tahini will be exactly the solution you need.