Tahini seems to be everywhere. The condiment — a peanut butter-like paste made from hulled sesame seeds that are toasted and then ground — probably best known in the West as an ingredient in hummus and as the base for a namesake sauce commonly drizzled over a falafel sandwich. It is widely used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine for both savory and sweet dishes. Lately, the earthy, nutritious mash is lending its deep, nutty flavor to Western-style savory dishes and baked goods as well. It is particularly handy to use as a vegan substitute for both heavy cream and egg-based mayonnaise. These recipes offer different ways to use tahini.
Incorporating tahini into sweet baked goods was a game changer for me. Rich and chewy Tahini Shortbread Cookies are addictive. Just barely sweet — think mellow halva — the sesame flavor shines through the tender, crumbly shortbread making it impossible to eat just one. They are so popular that I always make a double batch.
Blended into the batter, tahini helps balance the sweetness of the chocolate in Gluten-Free Buckwheat Brownies With Tahini Whipped Cream. Almost mousse-like, the whipped cream adds an extra layer of creaminess to the fudgy brownies (though they are pretty spectacular without it, too). This is one gluten-free treat that even devotees of glutinous products will not refuse.
Turmeric lends a bright, golden hue to the tahini sauce in Tofu Bowls With Avocado, Cabbage and Turmeric Tahini, making for a flavorful dressing that complements the citrusy cabbage and creamy avocado. Good as a side dish or a vegetarian main course, Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Spicy Tahini Sauce makes a stunning presentation and the lemony tahini sauce is packed with flavor that complements the smoky cauliflower.
Tahini-Herb Pasta Salad swaps tahini for heavy cream. Completely plant-based and teeming with fresh herbs, this is a flavorful, easy dish that will please carnivores and vegans alike.
Bonus: If you’re picnicking on a sunny day, it will leave your pasta salad less susceptible to spoiling than with a mayonnaise or cream-based dressing.
A Green Tahini Sauce is a colorful change from beige-ish aioli, which was the inspiration for this vegan stand-in for the egg-yolk-based condiment. Served as a dipping sauce with crudites or roasted veggies, it makes a wonderful appetizer or main course.
Of course, we must pay homage to the classic use of tahini in hummus. It enhances the flavor and creaminess of the deservedly well-loved chickpea puree. Most often served with pita bread as an appetizer, Hummus Tehina also makes a great sandwich spread and accompaniment to grilled meats and veggies.