Tag Archives: tahini

Middle Eastern “Caesar” Salad

8 Apr

A few weeks ago some friends and I threw a baby shower lunch for a wonderful mom-to-be. We put out a delicious spread, including some hummus that I quickly jazzed up with a sprinkling of za’atar. I couldn’t believe how many people actually made a point of asking me what it was or why the hummus tasted so good! Multiple people commented on how delicious it was and hardly any of them had heard of my incredibly handy ‘secret ingredient’.

If you haven’t tried za’atar, take a look for it next time you’re in a spice shop or specialty food store. It’s a blend of herbs including oregano & thyme mixed with sesame seeds, sumac and salt. It’s often used in Middle Eastern cooking and it’s a truly divine spice mix to add to your spice collection.

One of my favorite ways to eat it is just simply sprinkled onto lightly olive-oiled pita bread, warmed and toasted in a toaster oven. It makes a great accompaniment to salad.

But an idea came to me that builds on that idea and brings the za’atar and bread right into the salad itself. Enter homemade za’atar croutons.

I never think to make croutons myself and I don’t particularly like store-bought ones, but after proving to myself how easy and painless it is to make them at home, I have a feeling I’ll be adding them to my repertoire. It was so easy and they tasted so good without being too buttery or overloaded with oil and grease.

I didn’t really know how this salad was going to turn out, but the flavors of tahini and lemon were no-brainers when I was dreaming up what would blend well with my za’atar croutons.

Putting this whole salad together took very little time, effort and amount of ingredients. I made it as a side dish to accompany fish, but I think it would make a killer main dish salad with the addition of baked falafel balls or grilled chicken.

The dressing is so creamy and rich and the croutons are so decadent and flavorful, that upon taking the first bite, I immediately thought “Middle-Eastern Caesar!” In reality, it has nothing to do with a true Caesar salad, but it’s reminiscent of one in it’s own special, spiced-up way.

Middle Eastern “Caesar” Salad

Dressing:

1 big Tbsp tahini

Juice of half a lemon

Onion powder to taste

Cumin to taste

Olive oil

Hot water

Sea salt

Croutons:

Good quality bread (fresh or day-old), cubed

Olive oil

Za’atar

Sea salt

Salad:

Arugula

Cucumber, chopped

In a bowl, toss bread cubes with a few drizzles of olive oil and a little bit of sea salt. Add about a teaspoon of za’atar (or to taste) and toss to coat.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add in the bread cubes. Toast for approximately 10 minutes, constantly turning the pieces of bread until all sides are nice and golden.

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice. It will firm up quite a bit. Add in small amounts of hot water, a little bit at a time, until you get a nice smooth consistency. Drizzle in a little bit of olive oil and mix. Add some onion powder, cumin and a little bit of sea salt. Whisk everything together and set aside.

In a large serving bowl, add the arugula and cucumber. Dress it with the tahini dressing and toss well. Add in the za’atar croutons and give it one final toss before serving.


Tahini for Breakfast

8 Nov

I love the taste of sesame and have always been a big fan of tahini. For a long time though, I couldn’t figure out what else to do with it aside from slathering it onto falafel or other Middle Eastern dishes.

But after I experienced it for brunch at Edward Levesque’s Kitchen, my world was opened up to the possibilities.

They served it drizzled on top of fresh fruit and thick plain yogurt with date molasses and roasted granola. All I can say about that is YUM.  It was really tasty and it inspired me to try using tahini in different ways at home.

This past weekend I had a craving for waffles with yogurt and fruit (a weekend fave in our house) but I wanted something different than the sometimes overly sweet maple syrup we usually drizzle on top. So I whipped up a little maple cinnamon tahini sauce having no idea if it would work.

It was really delicious. And it made for a very filling and healthy breakfast. We usually buy Nature’s Path organic waffles and this time I used the ‘Maple Cinn’ flavor, which complemented the flavors in the sauce. I topped each waffle with a heaping spoonful of fat-free greek style yogurt, banana slices, fresh blueberries and a good amount of sauce.

Tahini is high in fat (just like nut butters) so you don’t want to use a ton, but it’s also a source of protein and iron so it’s a great breakfast addition.

Maple Cinnamon Tahini Sauce:

Tahini, about one heaping tablespoon

Maple Syrup (Real maple syrup! We love Canadian Heritage Organics Amber)

Cinnamon

Hot water

Add a heaping tablespoon of tahini into a small mixing bowl. Because tahini is very thick and pasty, you need to add some hot water to the bowl (a little bit at a time) and whisk well until you get a consistency that you like. It should be smooth but not watery.

Add maple syrup (as much or as little as you want) and a lot of cinnamon and whisk together to combine.

Anyone out there have any other unique ideas for delicious ways to use tahini?

 

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