Tahini is the glue that holds hummus together — at least that’s what I’ve always thought of it as. But tahini paste, ground-up hulled sesame seeds, isn’t just an ingredient in a dip. This rich and slightly bitter paste stands on its own as a salad dressing, marinade and even as a cooking sauce for meat. Tahini is a staple in North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean (Greek, Turkish, Israeli) cuisines, and it pairs well with eggplant, cilantro and yogurt (all popular in those cuisines, as well). Store tahini in a cool, dry place like a cabinet. It is particularly resistant to rancidity, which is an amazing quality for a pantry item. Did I mention that it’s a near-perfect substitute in recipes for people with peanut allergies? Like some natural peanut butters, the oil will float to the top of your jar. Don’t worry about that; just mix it in and go on your merry, sesame-filled way.
1. Alie and Georgia’s Sesame Bonbon cocktail adds a dollop of nutty tahini to balance the cocoa wallop of chocolate vodka, liqueuer and syrup.
2. Ina Garten’s Szechuan Noodles are sweet and spicy — and make for a lovely summer side dish.
3. Sesame Rings (Spain) are sweet treats that stay for a few weeks when stored in an airtight container. Make a few batches to keep on hand for unexpected company.
4. Make Slow-Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew, which yields enough to have leftovers for Moroccan Burritos with Tahini Herb Sauce.
5. Guy Fieri’s Moroccan Chicken with Shredded Cabbage and Tahini Sauce on Pita is a two-hand dinner. Marinate the chicken overnight so you can cut down on prep time when you want to eat.
6. Falafel two ways: Falafel in Lettuce Cups with Garlic Tahini Sauce and Ellie Krieger’s healthy take, Baked Falafel Sandwiches.
7. Bulgur Lentil Pilaf with Tahini Herb Sauce is the answer to your next Meatless Monday or craving for a hearty and healthy side dish.
8. Dessert, on the rocks: Halvah Whipped Cream with Armenian Arak Coffee is a spiked coffee dessert drink that conjures up the flavor of halva, a tahini-based dessert. Arak is a clear anise-flavored alcohol popular in the Middle East.
9. Eggplant Gazpacho is a twist on the classic Spanish cold tomato soup.
Baked Coconut Shrimp and Faux Peanut Sauce is a match made in peanut-free heaven.