Recently some of my carnivorous friends have asked me, “What’s the big deal about tahini for you vegetarian and vegans?”
Originating in the middle east, Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste that has a similar texture to peanut butter. It’s a creamy, oily, and smooth nut butter rich in calcium that middle easterners and vegans seemingly cannot live without.
Have you ever eaten a shawarma or falafel? Well then you’ve had that special sauce called tarator made up of tahini and loads of garlic. Have you had hummus? Then you’ve had tahini because it’s a key ingredient. Have you had sesame broccoli? Then you’ve probably had tahini!
Vegans have a love affair with tahini because nut butters offer up something of a substitute in the way of a cheese texture and flavour and are packed with calcium and protein.
A few tips when buying tahini or any nut / seed butter:
- Buy the unrefined butter with the oil floating on the top.
- The ingredient list should NOT include hydrogenated oils, which are often added to make the butter easier to spread.
- Store your nut butters upside down in the fridge so the oils move up to the bottom of the jar there by taking the effort out of stirring and spilling the oils each time you use the butter. Seriously, yo.
So what should we use the tahini for if it’s not just for drizzling on sandwiches? How about adding it to salad dressings? Spreading it on toast with honey is a favorite of our Apronite Reagan and Apronite Caitlin says she sometimes substitutes tahini for peanut butter when baking cookies. The flavour is a little more subtle than peanut butter but just as delicious.
I have been known to just throw tahini in a pan of broccoli, sesame oil and chili peppers, drizzle it on veggie dogs stacked with pickles, drop a tablespoon into my cashew cheese recipe, add it to my thai peanut sauce recipe and smear it on celery for snacking. Since this is a food blog and you’ll want a recipe, I offer up my bastardization of the Goddess Salad Dressing originally made famous byAnnie’s.
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBSP tamari (gluten free) OR soy sauce (contains wheat)
- juice from one medium size lemon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 TBSP green onions
- ¼ to ½ Cup warm water
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves lightly packed or about 2 TBSP dried parsley
- ½ tsp of agave, OR equivalent in stevia OR 1 tsp honey (vegan option)
- 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil