The biggest challenge of compiling a tahini recipe roundup is avoiding cutting and pasting the output of Yotam Ottolenghi. That man, simply put, is a tahini machine. He stuffs it into everything: tahini peas, tahini salmon, tahini pumpkin, tahini schnitzel, tahini brownies. You can understand his devotion; the toasted sesame paste lends an intriguing depth to a wide range of dishes. Here are 10 ways to use it.
Before moving on to other cooks, we must pay our respects to the king of tahini. Ottolenghi’s tahini thins are a brilliant place to start. They are a little fiddly to make – crackers often are – but they are well worth the endeavour. You will end up with a trayful of brilliantly complex little things, alive with sesame seeds and chilli and nori flakes. Ottolenghi recommends pairing with a cheese board.
One does not dip a toe gingerly into the world of tahini, but rather pinches one’s nose and plunges in with both feet. This is why I suggest pairing the tahini thins with Felicity Cloake’s perfect hummus. Her recipe requires six tablespoons of tahini. Now, have I tried loading up a tahini thin with hummus? No, I have not. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
With those two out of the way, it is time to explore the wondrous versatility of tahini. The Spruce Eats has a chicken salad recipe that might be the safest place to start. A pitta, loaded up with roast chicken, shredded carrots, baby spinach, sliced almonds, coriander, za’atar and tahini yoghurt, this is tremendously tasty and ridiculously easy to assemble.
And then, once you have mastered that, your next step should be Garden Deli’s recipe for tahini flatbread with honey and thyme, which I discovered hidden away on a readers’ recipe swap article from six years ago. If you want a recipe that showcases tahini’s versatility, this is it. It is a flatbread, but – wait for it – there is a tablespoon of tahini in the dough. The addition gently complicates the taste and leaves you with a much more interesting dish.
Nigel Slater is on the tahini train, too. This recipe – simply titled mushrooms, chickpeas, tahini – is pretty much the perfect lunch. Two big field mushrooms, filled with garlicky, tahini-rich chickpea paste and baked for half an hour. That is it – and it is spectacular.
One final savoury dish before I blow your mind. From a Chef’s Kitchen has a recipe for spicy tahini pork medallions with harissa-roasted sweet potato wedges that makes for a good weekday dinner. It is a pan-cooked pork fillet rubbed with ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper, but the sauce is where it really comes alive. It looks like the sort of artery-clogging cream sauce you would have found in a 70s restaurant, but it is much livelier than that, made with tahini, honey, lemon juice and vinegar.
So, dinner is over, but you have a load of tahini left. What are you supposed to do with it? Two words: tahini pudding. Want to make a tahini cake? You can! Benjamina Ebuehi did one for the Guardian last year. On the surface, it is just a regular coffee caramel cake, but the addition of tahini gives it a brilliant nut-free nuttiness, which is great if anyone in your family has a nut allergy. (This also works wonders with carrot cakes.)
Let’s go for it. Tahini cheesecake. Olive magazine has a recipe for a no-bake set version. The base is made with crumbed Lotus Biscoff biscuits, the topping is sweetened with light muscovado and the whole thing is finished off with a drizzle of dulce de leche. You can already taste it, can’t you?
As Anna Jones suggests, tahini also works well in blondies. Her recipe is called birthday chocolate-chip tahini blondies, because she wanted someone to make them for her birthday. Mine is in August. Just saying.
Hopefully you have already encountered the wonder of banana ice-cream (a ripe banana, chopped, frozen and blended into soft-serve ice-cream). Either way, we will finish with Minimalist Baker’s slightly more complicated version. Once you have made the ice-cream, add a spoon of tahini, some maple syrup and cacao powder, then blend again. Hey presto: upmarket ice-cream.