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Market Haul

Market Haul: Tahini

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If you've never tried tahini, meet your new favorite condiment.

If you're a fan of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, you're probably familiar with tahini. If not, meet your new favorite condiment.

Tahini is a paste essentially made from two ingredients: ground sesame seeds and oil. Some chefs may add salt and other spices, but at its core, tahini is a simple concoction that has a wide range of scrumptious applications.

Thanks to farmers' markets, small-batch tahini makers have been able to pop up around the country and thrive. In Philadelphia, for example, I often see the familiar faces of the ladies from Soom at food-related events all over the region. If you find a tahini purveyor at your neighborhood farmers' market, do yourself a favor and pick up a jar.

How to choose it
Before you buy a jar (or can) of tahini, double check that the ingredient list doesn't include additives or preservatives.Chances are that whatever you pick up at the farmers' market is a safe bet, but it doesn't hurt to ask your vendor.

How to use it
Tahini is best known as an ingredient in hummus, but its uses don't end there. Try it as a base for salad dressing and pesto. If you prefer sweet to savory, Soom makes a chocolate variation that, when spread on warm toast and topped with bananas, makes me swoon. You can also use tahini to add creaminess to baked goods, like these heavenly, gooey vegan brownies.

How to store it
Once you open your jar, store it in the fridge. It'll last for months, if not years. The oil will likely rise to the top while it sits, so give it a good stir before you use it.

How do you use tahini? Share your suggestions below.

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About the Author
Amy Gordon
Amy Gordon
Amy Gordon is a Wharton graduate who prefers flip flops to business suits. She writes about travel, food, wellness, and social consciousness. more
  • E J. 6 years ago
    When I was young, I remember my parents buying something called "Halva", or similar. Not sure if that was the brand or product name. It was a thick sesame paste covered in chocolate. (Looked like a pair of large Snickers in the packaging.) Super yum. Haven't seen it since. :-(
    • AmyS@Recyclebank 6 years ago

      I agree, halva is super yum, and unfortunately hard to find outside specialty grocery stores. If you can get your hands on a jar of tahini, you could probably make it at home with honey and pistachios (or chocolate, as you had it).

    • E J. 6 years ago
      Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the ethnic / specialty stores in my area. Maybe this is a good reason to start exploring! Regardless, do you have a make-it-yourself tahini recipe that you enjoy?
      And thanks for the reply.
  • Renae R. 6 years ago
    Chocolate tahini?!!? ERMAHGERD!!!
  • John H. 6 years ago
    We have yet to find any store bought tahini that doesn't contain soy. My wife and oldest daughter are highly allergic to soy. Even the jar at the farmers market contained soy. I assume they use it because it's so cheap. IDK. For Us, I occasionally make my own. 1 cup of toasted sesame seeds and 5 tb of extra virgin olive oil in a blender. I usually add some garlic, red pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. The paste is great over pita bread or mix with cumin, cilantro, and spice up that traditional chicken salad. EXCELLENT
  • joanna l. 6 years ago
    I love tahini ! I never thought of using it in pesto...yum!