Tahini is one of those ingredients that food bloggers have been drooling over for the last few years even though I’ve never actually seen anyone eat it in real life. When I first heard of it, I thought, “sure, I like sesame seeds, but do I really need to be able to spread them on things?”
But over the years, I’ve come across so many recipes calling for tahini, both savory and sweet, that I thought it was time I give it a try.
So the first recipe to take on was What’s Gaby Cooking‘s vegan caesar salad dressing for a decidedly non-vegan chicken caesar salad.
To avoid mayo and anchovies, Gaby uses tahini as the base of her dressing and lots of lemon juice and raw garlic for that classic caesar zip.
I tested things out by dipping my finger in the tahini first because, to be honest, I had no frame of reference for what liquid sesame seeds would taste like. To my utter surprise and delight, it tasted like a milder peanut butter! This shocked me. Sesame seeds don’t taste like peanuts, so I’m not sure how grinding them to a paste and adding salt makes peanut butter, but I won’t complain.
(As a side note, is this how other nut butters taste too? I’ve only ever had peanut butter because why mess with perfection, but maybe I’ve been missing out??)
The only problem was I became very skeptical of how a mild peanut butter could be a suitable base for caesar dressing. And then came the rest of the ingredients!
The lemon juice and raw garlic turned out to be a genius substitute for the dressing’s traditional anchovies and completely transformed the tahini’s flavor. I think that’s where the “mild” part of the flavor comes into play because it makes it easy to pair with other bold flavors without clashing.
I was so impressed with this easy, healthy dressing, which made for a delightful weeknight dinner, that I decided I needed to try tahini on something sweet next.
Cue the halva spread!
I came across an uber-simple recipe from Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen for chocolate halva spread. Halva (from what I’ve read, because y’all know I didn’t start eating this stuff until a few hours ago) is a sesame-based confection with a fudge-like consistency that’s common in Middle Eastern cuisine (not exactly my bread and butter, as we all know).
Halva spread is just what it sounds like—a spreadable sweet tahini. And chocolate halva spread sounded right up my alley, especially once I learned that tahini tastes like peanut butter!
The spread couldn’t have been simpler—tahini, honey, a little cocoa powder, and some flaky salt. I spread it on some toasted Ezekiel bread, which tastes like cardboard on its own but allowed me to eat a chocolate spread for lunch without feeling guilty.
OK, so the “chocolate” flavor didn’t really come through—I’d probably need to add some melted chocolate if I wanted something a little richer. But the sweetened tahini was heaven on earth!
I swirled in a little homemade raspberry jam next just because, and it made for the most delicious sweet tahini toast! If I had any fresh fruit, it would’ve been the perfect addition.
Given how simple this spread was to make and the fact that tahini will now be a pantry item for me, I see lots of halva fruit toasts in my future! Maybe on some waffles or pancakes too??
In my next sesame-fueled adventure, I’d like to try my hand at some recipes I’ve had saved for a while for tahini-based desserts. I like the idea of using it for healthier versions of my favorite dips and dressings too.
What are your favorite ways to use tahini? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles. And, yes, I am now just another food blog drooling over tahini.