Ingredient: Sesame Tahini…Peanut Butter, All Grows Up

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All who love peanut butter, raise your hands. I think I see a sea of arms waving frantically in the air. Peanut butter predated apricots and pistachios for my afternoon snacks, spread on apples or bananas or just spooned out of a jar hidden in my desk and eaten like a lollipop. But then as one grows older and pays attention to things like skyrocketing cholesterol, the peanut butter has to go. It was a tearful parting for me. Yet time healed this as it does most wounds, and just when I wasn’t expecting it, I discovered that there was indeed another that could fill the void.

Into my life walked tahini (pronounced in Arabic like tiny), a paste of toasted sesame seeds that I’d known forever, but hadn’t paid much attention to.

The reason tahini turned into a newfound love for me was that in the past I wasn’t using the best brand. I’ve since discovered that not all tahini is created equal—many tahinis can be bitter and pasty and make you think you could never forget peanut butter. But the good stuff, Joyva brand, is dark, nutty, all natural tahini. with a flavor that borders on buttery. I may not take a spoonful straight, but I sure will lick the spoon and also use that much more tahini in whatever I’m making because of the great depth of flavor exceptional tahini imparts.

Tahini separates in the can or jar, so the sesame oil must be stirred well into the paste before use. The paste can harden a bit at the bottom of the Joyva can, so scrape that up to get an even mixture.

Tahini is used to add complexity and flavor to Lebanese dips like hummus and baba gannouj, or whipped to a fluffy heaven with lemon juice and salt to make the simplest and most delicious sauce for all kinds of things, like fried cauliflower … or a delectable sauteed red snapper with tahini sauce and toasted pine nuts, coming up later this week.

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  1. Joan says:

    Does the tahini need to be refrigerated? Mine has been in the cupboard, opened, for several months. It smells nicw, but I don’t want to compromise the health of my hummus eaters tonight.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      I never refrigerate mine!

  2. Cathy Estrada says:

    I love your blog, it reminds me so much growning up watching my grandmother make bread and grape leaf rolls. My Grandmothers last name was Joseph when she was here but Abu Jamra from Deir Mimas.
    I make many of the main dishes that we are familar with but may end up eating them alone, husband only like a few things.

    I make my lebnah and mix zahtar and oil and salt in for a great spread for my bread, I wish I had more ideas of how to use zahtar in other ways. Can you write about it some time.

    Also I mix tahini in with avacado lemon and oil and lots of garlic, always a big hit!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Cathy! And thanks too for your request for more on zahtar…will do! I’d love to try your avocado with tahini, garlic and lemon–sounds just delicious!

  3. Sydney says:

    Thanks so much! Always wondered what was the best! I just put a batch of my favorite cookie, Kaik, in the oven. I absolutely LOVE mehlab!!!! I’ve always wondered how in the world someone thought to take cherry pits and grind them to use as a spice!!!! I can’t get enough!!! I love my grandmothers recipe!!!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hello! I wish I was there to taste your kaik, one of the best cookies of all time! Thank you for telling me about it so I can at least dream….

  4. Markay says:

    I find your blog truly inspiring. Just when I had given up on kale you come up with a great
    receipe, and now to find a good tahini to use, amen sista.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      How wonderful–thank you so much. This tahini is in a class by itself!! Amen to you too, sista!