So, tahini is made from sesame, right?
Yes – tahini is a condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame. It is often served on its own as a spread or salad dressing but is also a primary ingredient in popular dips like hummus and baba ghanoush. Popular from Georgia to Jordan, tahini tastes like its source ingredient – sesame seeds – and has a savoury, bitter and nutty flavour profile.
Is it good for you?
Tahini is relatively low in calories, but high in fibre, protein and an assortment of important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins (which boost energy and brain function), vitamin E (which can help protect against heart disease and stroke) plus calcium, magnesium and iron. However, it’s also high in omega-6 fatty acids – a type of polyunsaturated fat found primarily in the likes of sunflower oil – so it’s best to consume it in moderation and enjoy it alongside healthy food such as grains, salads and vegetables. Don’t let its high fat content put you off: tahini has also been associated with several benefits, including improved heart health and reduced inflammation.
How To Use Tahini
Cesar Fernandez, Home Economist at Miele GB
When you buy tahini, make sure you choose the lighter coloured variety, so there’s not a lot of oil separation in the jar. This will happen naturally after a certain amount of time, but it normally indicates the tahini is on the older side. Check the label and make sure the ingredients list is as short as possible, ideally only sesame seeds. You can store tahini in the fridge but keeping it at room temperature makes it much easier to use. Always remember to stir it before using, too.
Great for both sweet and savoury recipes, some of my favourite ways to use tahini are:
Mixed with Greek yoghurt, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper and a sauce to dip roasted veg or crudités.
Mixed with equal quantities of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Coat cauliflower, broccoli or Romanesco before roasting for about 20-25 minutes on 200°C.
Served with noodles. Italy might have brought bolognese into the world, but China has dan dan noodles – stir-fried pork mince with ginger, chili oil, szechuan peppercorns and tahini over egg noodles. Simply mixed with soy sauce is great, too.
With chicken thighs. Sear the thighs and then add a mixture of chicken stock, tahini, soy sauce and a little sugar and cook for 35-40 minutes. The sauce will be thick, sweet and salty at the same time – delicious.
Baking. Swirl into cheesecakes, brownies, blondies or biscuits before baking for extra creaminess and flavour. White chocolate and tahini is a fantastic combination – one of my favourites.
CESAR’S FAVOURITE RECIPE: Tahini & Black Sesame Cake
Need to add some to your kitchen cupboard? Here are the best shop-bought tahinis to try…
Inspired? Here are seven more recipes to try at home…
Adam Byatt, Trinity
Apart from using tahini in hummus, this is a wonderful dressing for grilled vegetables and light meat dishes like grilled chicken. The best tahini is from Belazu. Also look out for red tahini, which is awesome in cashew nut hummus.
Heather Kaniuk, Longboys
If you’re big a fan of hummus, you’ll love this beetroot version. The colour is simply divine, and the ruby shade brightens any mezze platter or crudités. If you have fresh beets, simply wrap in tinfoil and bake for 1 hour at 180°C, otherwise use store bought cooked beets for a quick and easy alternative. If you find your tahini has separated into a hard layer with oil on top, a good tip is to scoop out the whole jar of tahini into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour back into the original jar and store in the refrigerator – it won't separate again.
Smoked Aubergine Puree
Liam Dillan, The Boat Inn
Tahini is obviously great with humus to give a silky rich finish. This recipe is a smoked aubergine puree finished with tahini. Serve it with lamb, or on its own as a tasty dip.
NATAŠA MANDIĆ/STOCKSY UNITED
INA PETERS/STOCKSY UNITED
Tahini, Vanilla and Berry Sundae
Henry Russell, Belazu
Adding a drizzle of tahini and a sprinkle of marcona almonds elevates what is usually a basic pudding to an elegant and rich dessert. Layer the elements together in tall sundae glasses, allowing all the ingredients to combine together so with every spoonful you get a delightful mix of each. It is also important to get a good quality vanilla ice cream for this dessert, as the quality will really come through.
Tahini Dressing Three Ways
Tahini is an incredibly versatile ingredient, especially when it comes to dressings and sauces. The smooth texture can be used make a variety of creamy dressings for salads, grilled vegetables or meats. We developed a simple recipe to go with three tahini dressings as easy inspiration.
Tahini & Turmeric Granola Bars
The Groovy Food Company
Tahini Sesame Noodles
Kimberly Lin, Floozie
This is a flavourful quick fix for those nights when I really don’t feel like cooking after a busy day. The rich nutty tahini pairs so well with the spicy chilli sauce, it’s easy to jazz up with extra veggies or other proteins. I keep mine simple with just some silken tofu and spring onions.
INSPIRATION CREDITS: DARREN MUIR/STOCKSY UNITED
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