Vegan Wonder

Discover the Versatile Magic of Tahini in Vegan Mediterranean Cuisine

If you’ve never cooked with tahini before, you’re in for a delicious and nutritious treat. This creamy sesame paste, a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, is not only versatile in the kitchen but also packed with health benefits. If you’re new to vegan cooking or looking to expand your plant-based repertoire, tahini is a must-have ingredient. Read on to learn all about it, plus get some amazing vegan Mediterranean recipes to try.

About Tahini

Tahini is made by grinding sesame seeds into a smooth paste, similar to peanut butter. It originated in ancient Mesopotamia and has been a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking ever since. Tahini is rich in nutrients, including healthy fats, fiber, protein, and essential minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Tahini is a versatile ingredient in vegan cooking. It can be used as a base for sauces and dressings, a thickener in soups and stews, or even as a spread. It goes well with a variety of flavors, making it an excellent addition to many plant-based dishes. Plus, it keeps well in the pantry, making it a convenient ingredient to have on hand.

When shopping for tahini, look for a high-quality brand with a smooth texture and rich, nutty flavor. You can find it in most supermarkets or at specialty food stores. To store tahini, keep it in a cool, dry place like your pantry. Once opened, give it a good stir before using. It may separate over time, but a simple stir will bring it back to its creamy consistency.

Tahini-Infused Vegan Mediterranean Salads

Tahini-Dressed Fattoush Salad

This vibrant salad takes advantage of crisp greens and toasted pita bread. The tangy tahini dressing ties everything together. To make it, combine torn lettuce and spinach, chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, red onion, and pitted Kalamata olives in a large bowl. Toast pita bread until crispy and tear into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup tahini, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sumac. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Top with toasted pita pieces and crumbled feta cheese, if desired.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Tahini Drizzle

This hearty salad is a great way to use seasonal vegetables. Simply roast your favorites, such as carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting. Toss roasted veggies with cooked quinoa or farro, chopped parsley, and a handful of pine nuts or pepitas. For the tahini drizzle, whisk together 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, salt, and pepper.

Tahini-Enriched Vegan Mediterranean Main Dishes

Creamy Tahini Hummus with Vegetable Crudités

This simple yet delicious appetizer is perfect for entertaining or as a snack. To make creamy tahini hummus, blend together 2 cans chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1/2 cup tahini, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer hummus to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with fresh vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.

Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce

These flavorful falafel patties are delicious on their own or tucked into a pita with lettuce, tomato, and pickles. To make the falafel, combine 2 cans chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until mixture comes together but still has some texture. Form into small patties and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. For the tangy tahini sauce, whisk together 1/2 cup tahini, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water until smooth.

Tahini-Infused Vegan Mediterranean Desserts

Tahini-Swirled Vegan Baklava

This dessert is a delicious twist on the classic. Start by making phyllo dough pastry as directed on the package. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup tahini, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Brush a 9×13 inch baking dish with melted butter. Layer phyllo dough sheets, brushing each with butter before adding the next. Once you have 12-15 layers, drizzle with half of the honey-tahini mixture. Repeat with phyllo dough layers and butter, ending with a layer of phyllo. Drizzle remaining honey-tahini mixture over the top. Cut into diamonds or squares and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Tahini-Infused Vegan Halva

This creamy, dense confection is a popular dessert in Mediterranean countries. To make tahini halva, combine 1 cup tahini, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup honey, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes away from the sides of the pan. Pour into an 8×8 inch baking dish and let cool before cutting into squares.

Tips for Cooking with Tahini

When using tahini in recipes, remember that a little goes a long way. Start with small amounts and add more as needed to achieve the desired flavor and consistency. It’s easier to add more tahini than it is to take it away. For example, when making dressings or sauces, you may need to add water to thin it out or more lemon juice or vinegar to balance the flavors.

Tahini can separate, especially if it has been stored in a warm place. To bring it back to its creamy consistency, simply stir it well before using. If you find that your tahini has become too thick or has developed an off taste, it may be time to buy a fresh jar.