Hummus. It’s one of the world’s favorite foods, and why not? That simple puree of chickpeas, tahini and lemon juice is nutritious, delicious and — if a 2019 NPR story titled “Your Hummus Habit Could Be Good For The Earth” is to be believed — an ecological and economic salve for our troubled world.
But for anyone who’s tried making it at home (myself included) you’ve probably experienced this: a pricey container of tahini sitting half-empty and dormant in the back of the fridge for months. It was too expensive to toss — tahini often costs around $8 to $10 per pound — and, just maybe, you’ll make another batch of hummus one of these days.
Sure you (or I) will.
Fortunately, that creamy sesame seed paste has a slew of other uses you may not have tried. I’ve got three for you that will help get the jar out of the fridge posthaste.
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For starters, tahini, either straight-up or stirred with a bit of salt, chile flakes and lemon juice, makes an excellent dip on a veggie platter. Slice up some cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, celery stalks and carrot sticks and dunk away.
And no need to feel guilty here: You’ll shave off quite a few calories and punch up your protein intake over the typical ranch dressing many of us are used to dipping our veggies in.
Just put equal parts tahini and olive oil in a blender with vinegar or lemon juice to taste. Add garlic, salt, pepper, herbs or other ingredients as desired and whir until a smooth dressing forms. If its too thick, blend in a tablespoon or two of water until you have the consistency you’re looking for.
I’m a big fan of tahini-based salad dressings as well, both for the same nutritional reasons and to shake up the ranch or vinaigrette routine.
On ExpressNews.com: Recipe: Tahini Ice Cream
A slight variation on that is a Lebanese condiment called tarator sauce. Skip the olive oil and blend equal parts tahini and lemon juice with salt, a fistful of parsley and oodles of garlic. This one’s particularly good as a condiment for grilled skewers of chicken or lamb.
Tahini also can be used as a substitute for peanut butter in a sweet and sophisticated treat.
Start with your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. Swap the peanut butter for tahini, using a little less tahini if yours is particularly runny. Once you’ve crimped the top of the cookies with a fork as most recipes call for, sprinkle on some sesame seeds and bake as your recipe instructs.
In other culinary happenings, I spent the week working through several recipes made with sourdough bread starter. Because everyone in the world started making sourdough at the beginning of the pandemic, and by now, everyone in the world is tired of it and would like to know what else they can do with that starter.
The process of feeding a starter generates a lot of surplus yeasty slurry often called “discard” that usually gets thrown out, but can be used to make a host of non-bread items as well. If you’re curious, try any of the following recipes.
Recipe: Sourdough Waffles
Recipe: Sourdough Empanadas
Recipe: Sourdough Popovers
Recipe: Sourdough Crepes
Recipe: Sourdough Crackers
Recipe: Sourdough Starter
Paul Stephen is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Paul, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen