If you love hummus, you’ll already be familiar with the nutty depth that tahini lends to this delicious dip. But what actually is tahini? How do you use it? How should it be stored?
Tahini is the name for the paste made from ground, toasted sesame seeds. Originating in the Middle East but is now used in cuisines around the world, tahini is a versatile and accessible ingredient; it adds a rich, toasted flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes, and is often used as a sauce or dip in its own right. Although similar in concept to its nut-butter cousins (they’re all one-ingredient jars of oily deliciousness), tahini is generally more bitter than sweet, but this can vary depending on which brand you buy.
In fact, tahini can fluctuate hugely in taste, texture, colour and viscosity from one jar to the next - but no matter where you buy yours, once opened, tahini should be stored in the fridge rather than the cupboard: due to its high oil content it’ll last much longer that way without going rancid. So, armed with that knowledge, if you’re new to tahini and want to expand your repertoire with this creamy, toasty, nutty ingredient, here are five ideas for you to try:
Let’s not reinvent the wheel here: tahini and chickpeas belong together, so why not have a go at making your own hummus? For the creamiest dip imaginable, choose a light coloured Mediterranean tahini and if you’re using cooked, canned chickpeas, make sure you peel them in a clean tea towel by rubbing their outer coatings off before blending. It might seem like a lot of effort, but you’ll be in for a velvety reward for doing so. Taste as you go here too - it’s completely up to you if you want more tahini, more garlic or more olive oil. We have a classic hummus recipe, but you can’t beat our creamy garlic hummus, and you've got to try our hummus spaghetti.
Oh, did we mention that tahini is amazing in desserts? Its inviting bitterness lends a grown-up edge to these chocolate brownies, which are sweet, salty and perfectly balanced with that creamy tahini topping.
Tahini Noodle Salad
The earthy flavour of sesame is used in a lot of chinese cuisine; this cold noodle salad comes alive with chilli, garlic, and crunchy peanuts - just sub out the thicker sesame paste for tahini and you’ll have a deliciously light and fresh fridge meal in minutes.
Cheat’s tahini, honey and dark chocolate ice cream
Sometimes all you need is something interesting to elevate your dessert, and tahini does just that. By mixing honey and tahini together to taste, then swirling through softened bought vanilla ice cream alongside chocolate chunks (and chopped up halva if you can get it) you’ve got a deliciously sophisticated dessert on a dime. Top your tahini ice cream with a tiny pinch of flaky sea salt to really make those flavours sing.
Tahini dressing for salad
The tahini-yoghurt dressing from this salmon salad also goes wonderfully in a warmed falafel pitta or wrap. It’s a cinch to make too - it’s just tahini, lemon juice, Greek yoghurt, and seasoning thinned down with a tiny splash of water. Be warned though, if you make it, you’ll want to eat it on everything, and maybe even brush your teeth with it too.