Just over two weeks ago, my mother cooked a delicious Middle Eastern supper for our entire immediate family. We were so excited to be together as my older brother and his husband had just returned from a couple months of summer travel. The menu included yogurt marinated lamb kabobs, hummus, tabouli, and tzatziki. Eager to contribute, I offered to make babaganoush with a bulbous eggplant I had recently purchased at Easton's Sport Hill Farm.
To be honest, I had no idea how to make babaganoush. I didn’t fret, however, as one of the countless things my mother instilled in me was confidence in the kitchen. She cooked incredible meals every day, fearlessly conquering and even improving upon recipes from all over the world. She also guided me to better trust and exercise my ability to be resourceful and problem solve. So, as I scrolled through a number of babaganoush recipes, I realized I had all the necessary ingredients except one: tahini, or toasted sesame paste. After doing a little research, I learned how wonderfully simple it is to make tahini. All you need is a food processor, sesame seeds, and good quality oil that isn’t too bold in flavor, such as mild olive or grape seed oil.
My babaganoush and tahini ended up complimenting my mother’s nourishing, love-infused meal. She, too, was surprised by how easy it is to make tahini and looked forward to mixing some up with me. My heart is so strained as I write that this will never happen. 36 hours after our beautiful family supper, my mother suffered a massive brain aneurysm. She passed away two days later, after being kept on life support to prepare for organ donation. I cannot even begin to express how much I miss her.
So, it means a great deal to share this recipe, which will now inhabit a special place in my heart. The tahini I made that evening has gone a long way, nourishing us during this most difficult and unexpected time. I have since created a version with black sesame seeds and one with both black and white seeds. The darker seeds are slightly more flavor-packed and have higher amounts of calcium and magnesium. On that note, sesame seeds are loaded with other nutrients, too, including iron, protein, zinc, vitamin B1, and manganese, phosphorus, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.
Drizzle the tahini over sautéed or roasted vegetables. Spread it on raw veggies or rice crackers. Stir it into hummus or babaganoush for enhanced flavor. It’s so versatile! We’ll also post a recipe soon for a wonderful tahini-citrus salad dressing. Most of all, appreciate every moment.
Homemade Tahini Ingredients
½ cup Black and/or Regular Sesame Seeds
1-2 tablespoons of Good Quality Oil, such as Mild Olive Oil or Grape seed Oil
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread sesame seeds out on a baking sheet. Toast for 4-8 minutes, until fragrant but not browned. I suggest toasting the light and dark sesame seeds separately as the black seeds are more sensitive to heat.
2. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. Pour sesame seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Process for about a minute to begin breaking the seeds down. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and drizzle in 1 tablespoon of oil.
4. Process for a few more minutes, scraping the sides and base of the bowl periodically. Add a little more oil and continue to blend. You’ll notice that as the seeds break down, a shimmery oil is released. It’s pretty incredible – sesame seeds can have a 50% oil content, which is among the highest for any seed. Continue processing the tahini until it is smooth. For a thinner tahini, add more oil.
5. Transfer into a jar and enjoy as desired. You can store it in your fridge for 2-3 months.