Tahini Temptations

Tahini is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. With an earthy and savory flavor, tahini is simply ground sesame paste. Tahini’s ingredient list is short, yet the nutrition value is high. On average, each tablespoon provides about 90 calories and 3 grams each of protein and carbohydrates. While fat provides the majority of tahini’s calories, the monounsaturated fats are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Commercially made tahini is shelf stable, however storing the product in the refrigerator may help retain the quality. Some brands suggest using tahini within a year of opening, others recommend going with the printed date on the label. Either way, if a sharp or metallic aroma or unpleasant flavor is noted, the fat in the tahini could be rancid and the product should be tossed. 

Tahini may come as creamy butter, but the oil tends to separate out once opened. If this happens, try using a table knife to mix the oil back into the paste.  Or warm the tahini – either in the microwave (in a microwave-safe container) or put the tahini jar in a bowl of hot water.  A little bit of heat will make it easier to stir the tahini back into a creamy consistency. 

Tahini is traditionally found in dips like chickpea hummus and eggplant baba ghanoush, but don’t stop there: 

  • Mix into appetizers: Try adding a spoonful of tahini to pureed carrots or beets for a vegetable hummus. 
  • Whisk into a dressing: Tahini’s thick texture creates a creamy dressing for salads and vegetable dips. Add to your favorite dressing or mix into soy sauce or vinegar as a base for a vinaigrette.
  • Incorporate tahini into a sauce: Thin tahini with a bit of water and add lemon juice and chopped garlic for flavor. Enjoy with roasted vegetables or grilled meats.
  • Blend into breakfast: Tahini makes an excellent addition to smoothies and oatmeal — just stir or blend in a spoonful to add both flavor and nutrition. 
  • Make a spread:  Mix tahini with honey for a delicious plant-based spread to enjoy on bagels, English muffins, or toast. Add cinnamon for a hint of spice.
  • Try in desserts: for a healthy ending, blend tahini a spoonful of honey or maple syrup and thin with water. Drizzle the sweetened tahini over a fresh fruit platter. 

When it comes to tahini, a little bit goes a long way towards creating a nutty flavor and a creamy texture. Enjoy in recipes and dishes ranging from savory to sweet. Experience tahini at its best in these Garlic Hummus or the Beef Lettuce Wrap recipes!  

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