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Treat Yourself to Tahini

Remember the days when nut butter was just good ole peanut butter and nothing else? I sure do. It seems that nobody back then thought about making any other sort of nut butter. Well somewhere along the line, something changed. Radically! Maybe because peanuts became a greater allergen than I ever remember as a child, and something had to replace it. Enter the modern age of nut butters — cashew, macadamia, pistachio, almond, sunflower, hazelnut, sesame seed butter and the star of this post: tahini. Tahini is a delicious, versatile spread made from sesame seeds that people have been making for hundreds of years. (Some trace its use back to a 13th century Arabic cookbook.) While sesame seed butter and tahini are both made from sesame seeds, the butter is a thicker, darker spread made from ground whole sesame seeds while tahini is made from ground hulled sesame seeds. Tahini is milder in flavor; you can buy it raw or try it roasted, depending on your mood and what you want to use it for. The possibilities are endless! Just remember raw tahini is slightly sweet and nutty while roasted tahini has a richer, deeper flavor. Although sesame butter made from the whole sesame seed has a stronger nutritional profile, tahini is more commonly used and still provides some good stuff: it is naturally low in sodium, has no cholesterol and is a good source of thiamin, phosphorus, copper and manganese. And according to FDA daily value guidance, just one tablespoon provides 6% of our calcium and 7% of our iron needs. If you’re familiar with Middle Eastern, Asian and African cuisine, then you’re no stranger to tahini! But did you know it is way more versatile than most people realize? Here’s what I mean:
  • Spread it on toast, bagels, crackers, pita bread, waffles and pancakes.
  • Add a spoonful to smoothies.
  • Thin it out with honey or maple syrup and use as a spread or drizzle over fruit salad.
  • Add it to bean dips and vegetable pates. We turned it into Black Bean Hummus.
  • Make a simple tahini yogurt sauce for lamb or grilled meat. Try these Lamb Skewers with Tahini Yogurt Sauce.
  • Stir a spoonful into hot oatmeal or any hot cooked cereal.
  • Turn it into a salad dressing like we did in this recipe for Asian Greens Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing.
  • Great with Tempeh and Tofu! Here’s a summery idea for Tempeh and Vegetable Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing.
  • Make it into a sauce for grains and vegetables. Here’s a recipe for a delicious Tahini Miso Sauce and one for Portobello Spring Rolls with Cilantro-Tahini Dip.
  • Try it with greens, like in these Creamy Sesame Greens.
  • Turn it into “milk” – blend a tablespoon with a cup of water and a dab of a natural sweetener; use just as you would milk – in cooking baking or just as a beverage.
  • Use in place of peanut butter in recipes for baking, such as in cookies. Here’s a recipe for Tahini Oat Cookies and one for Tahini and Sesame Seed Cookies.
  • Use it in Our Simply Delicious Homemade Hummus and our wonderful Baba Ghanouj.
  • Stir it into hot cooked Asian noodles – perfect with tamari, garlic, ginger and green onions. Or try our recipe for Sesame Noodles.
  • Make “candy” from chopped dates, figs, raisins and tahini all combined in a food processor. Roll it into balls and then into coconut flakes or cocoa or carob powder.
  • Blend a tablespoon or so with frozen fruit (think: bananas, peaches, mangoes) a dash of vanilla and a little water for an ice-cream-like treat.
  • Spread it on a banana drizzled with melted dark chocolate and sing hallelujah as you take your first bite!
  • Make a tahini sandwich: use it in place of mayonnaise with avocado and veggies. Or try this recipe for an Open-Face Apple Tahini Sandwich.
  • Falafel! Need I say more? I will anyway: Falafel with Tahini Yogurt Sauce. Yum!
Once opened, be sure to store your tahini in the refrigerator. The oil may separate and rise to the top; just stir it in before using. Some people like to store the jar upside down and give it a good shake before opening. Whatever works! Got any recipes or ideas for tempting tahini treats? Let me know!

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Shelley says …

I adore tahini on a shish kafta sandwich with a pickle.

Cathy Wolf says …

My very favorite is the roasted sesame tahini made by Tohum. I love it. I stir it into ramen soups, eat it with brown rice and steamed veggies, and make awesome salad dressings with garlic and dill. Yum.

Joyce Spatta says …

The apple tahini sandwich sounds delicious. It will be served for lunch tomorrow.

Shirley says …

Why is tahini bitter?

Laura says …

I love tahini! I have made the sesame greens recipe shown above with kale and collard greens - it's so good. I also make sesame tofu: slather marinated baked tofu in the tahini, roll in sesame seeds and bake until seeds brown - yum!

Guillermo C says …

I need a good and original recipe for tahini. Can I make it at home? Thank you in advance

Amy Z. says …

What Tahini products does Whole Foods currently sell?

Bepkom says …

@Amy: Our product selection varies from store to store, so please check in at the store where you shop. Thanks!

Karen says …

What section of the store is tahini usually located? I've been having a hard time finding it at the store near me when I've off and on looked (and of course when I get offered assistance I forget that I need it!)

Bobby H says …

@Karen: Most stores carry tahini in the bulk section, near the bulk nut butters. You can also find it prepackaged in the nut butter aisle. However, since product selection varies between stores, it’s best to contact your local store to confirm that they sell it.

Amanda says …

I just called your store in Ann Arbor to see if you carry raw tahini and they said you did not. Do you usually carry it? Can't seem to find it at Trader Joes or Whole Foods! Thank you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@AMANDA - Sorry about that! Since our products very between regions I cannot say exactly which store carries it but there is a common vendor we carry, Artisana. They do make a raw tahini (http://www.artisanafoods.com/products/tahini). Maybe if you have the brand the store could let you know if they carry that brand or can look in to ordering it for you. If not, we have a store that ships products in Austin and if they carry it, they are happy to ship it for you! You can reach them directly at 512-542-2243.

Dawn Stanek says …

Is your tahini gluten free?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DAWN - Our 365 Tahini is made in a facility that does not contain gluten.

takemeom says …

Just don't buy Tohum Tahini, their owner and certification are in question

LaTrice says …

I would like to know how much Tahini costs, because I'm interested in making some Hummus.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LATRICE - Our prices vary between locations. Check with your local store to see what their pricing is!

Joyce says …

Searched the entire Whole Foods store and could not find Tahini; where exactly is it???

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JOYCE - Our store layouts will differ between locations but most stores will have tahini near the nut butters. If you can't find it in the future, just ask a team member. They will be happy to help!

Jane Palmer says …

I am trying to find a store in Wichita, KS where I can go in and buy 1/2 cup of tahini, or a cup of oil,or a cup of peanut butter. My food co-op sells these products. can you help me find such a place.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JANE - We have a store in Wichita that should offer a bulk department where you can get as little or as much as you'd like. You can call the store directly at 316.630.8484 to find out if they have all of these options in stock.