, ,

DSCF3745Don’t you just love the taste of tahini?
Made up of ground sesame seeds and often combined with other ingredients, it’s especially good as a topping on vegetables, salads, and loaves.  Incorporating tahini in recipes, like the tarator sauce that I mentioned in my falafal post or the lemon hummus recipe below, is so addicting it will leave you wanting more.
Commercially sold tahini is available roasted, raw or organic but often has added oil and is expensive.
Whipping up your own concoction will leave you with a few more pennies in your pocket and putting it together is simple and fast.

Many people believe raw tahini is far superior nutritionally compared to the roasted version. Nothing is added, subtracted or refined in this process. If making your own, soak the seeds for at least 4 hours (I soak overnight). This allows for better digestibility.

Some health benefits of consuming sesame seeds include high levels of calcium, copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and zinc. They are also a good source of protein and are alkaline forming.
The high calcium content not only adds to bone health but it also plays a key role in muscle contraction.

You can purchase the seed either hulled or unhulled. The hulled version is more commonly used in recipes. It is a little less bitter and is easier to digest than the unhulled version. However, the unhulled has more nutritional value.

Because the seeds have a high fat content, I do not add oil to either of the recipes (below). The hummus is used primarily as a spread for our veggie sandwiches. Serving to friends and family, I would add oil to the hummus (a little at a time) to arrive at a taste that would appease even the most finicky eater.

Lemon Hummus
3 cups cooked chickpeas, about 1 1/2 cups dry
2 large garlic cloves, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp raw tahini, see below
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp course sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 – 1 cup water
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Soak chickpeas overnight. Cook on medium heat until tender.
Mix all ingredients in a vitamix or blender except for cayenne pepper. Once everything is blended, add cayenne to your desired taste. I add just a little to enhance the flavors already present. The hummus does not have a spicy kick.

Raw Tahini Paste
Depending on how much paste you wish to make, soak 1 – 2 cups of sesame seeds overnight.  One cup of seeds yields one cup of paste. I mix together 1/2 cup of white and 1/2 cup brown seeds. Drain, rinse and blend in a vitamix or blender the following day. Keep refrigerated. Should keep for about 2 weeks.

If you desire a roasted flavor, after soaking, dry seeds in a dehydrator or place in an oven on its lowest setting (this dries out the seed only, keeping it raw). When blending, add a little water if necessary to make the consistency of paste.

Do you have a favorite tahini topped dish? Please leave a comment…