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Using tahini beyond hummus

TGIFOOD

OPEN SESAME

Using tahini beyond hummus

Tahini Stuffed Date Bites. Photographed by Daria Higgins. Food styling by Nikita Singh

Tahini, that neglected jar in your pantry, is a sesame seed condiment most people have around, but hardly ever use. You probably bought it to make hummus three months ago and then struggled to find a use for the rest of the jar. Don’t worry, the versatility of this creamy, nutty paste goes far beyond your standard hummus recipe.

Tahini, or tahina, is a paste made from toasted and ground hulled sesame seeds. It’s most notably used in Middle Eastern cuisine such as hummus, baba ganoush, and halva; but sesame paste is also common to North African dishes, and even some Chinese recipes such as Szechuan dandan noodles.

This versatile ingredient lends a luxuriously creamy texture and a mild, toasted flavour to any sweet or savoury dish. Even when used in small quantities it adds richness and depth to sauces, cookies and cakes.

Tahini is a useful replacement for peanut butter — especially for those with nut allergies. In fact, the sesame condiment is higher in calcium than its peanut counterpart. Throw it in smoothies, swirl into brownie batter, or spread on toast with lashings of honey and cinnamon.

The trick with tahini is getting the right consistency. On its own, tahini is thin and pourable, but when mixed with other ingredients it thickens rapidly and can become difficult to stir. You can temper the consistency of tahini by whisking in water to thin the paste, using small spoonfuls at a time.

Mix with lemon juice and water for an easy, creamy salad dressing or stir into yogurt for a quick party dip. Tahini is a kitchen staple for all seasons, not just the occasional batch of hummus.

Spicy Tahini Rice Noodles

Tahini Rice Noodles. Photographed by Daria Higgins. Food styling by Nikita Singh

Blended with soy sauce, chilli, and ginger, tahini is transformed into a creamy, flavour-packed noodle sauce.

Serves 2

For the sauce

cup tahini

cup water

2 tbs soy sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar

½ tsp sesame oil

1 tbs honey

2 cm fresh ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 dried red chillies

2 tsp sugar

For the noodles

200g rice noodles

1 tsp vegetable oil

cup red pepper, sliced

cup carrot, thinly sliced

cup red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 soft-boiled egg, to serve

Sesame seeds, to serve

Fresh coriander, to serve

  1. In a blender, place all the sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

  3. In a wok, add the oil, red pepper and carrot, and cook for a minute on high heat, tossing frequently.

  4. Add the noodles and sauce to the wok and gently toss until all the noodles are coated in sauce.

  5. To serve, divide noodles into two large bowls. Top with red cabbage, half an egg, sesame seeds and fresh coriander.

Tahini-Stuffed Date Bites

Tahini and maple syrup combine to form a luxurious and golden vegan caramel.

Makes 8

For the dates

8 medjool dates

2 tbs tahini

2-3 tsp maple syrup (depending on sweetness preference)

¼ tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate coating

40g dark chocolate

½ tsp coconut oil

Sesame seeds, for garnish

Dessicated coconut, for garnish

Prepare a baking tray with a sheet of wax paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the tahini, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Cut the medjool dates lengthwise and carefully remove the pits.

Spoon the tahini mixture into each date.

In a separate bowl add the chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave for 20-second intervals, stirring occasionally, until just melted.

Working quickly, dip the stuffed dates into the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or coconut, then leave to set on the baking tray. Dip the entire date in chocolate for an even more decadent treat. DM

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