Healthy Recipes with Tahini
Chicken Fingers and Green Beans with Tahini Sauce
Chicken fingers aren't just for kids. Savory-sweet and addictive, the tahini-tomato dipping sauce offers a palate intrigue adults will love but enough flavor familiarity to keep it kid-approved.
Lentil-Tahini Burgers with Pickled Cabbage
Look for steamed, vacuum-packed lentils in the grain aisle for the best texture in the burgers, or cook, drain, and refrigerate your own the night before. Why does tahini turn to a gluey paste when liquid is added? Tahini is made of carbs, and carbs stick to water molecules like, well, glue. Keep slowly adding liquid and stirring; the sauce will start to absorb the liquid and smooth out.
All-Purpose Tahini Dressing
Chicken Gyro Bowls
Flip a gyro into a whole-grain bowl layered with kale, veggies, herbs and chickpeas. Then we top it with lean, spice-packed chicken, feta cheese, and tahini-spiked yogurt. It's everything you want from the hearty Greek platter with less than 400 calories—a sum of parts you feel good about finishing.
Sesame-Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Sesame, especially toasted sesame oil, is a key flavor in many Asian cuisines. It makes sense that tahini would fit here too, especially as a finishing touch for roasted sweet potatoes with Sriracha.
If you think you're over avocado toast, this topper will change your mind. Fresh avocado, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, and a hard-cooked egg drizzled with tahini create a truly addicting combination. So what is tahini? Tahini is the stuff of life in Israel, like olive oil in Italy or butter in France. The paste, made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds, is nutty and rich, with a slightly bitter finish and an unctuous mouthfeel akin to peanut butter. Look for tahini that’s well blended (little to no separation). Make sure to give your tahini a good stir before drizzling, and refrigerate after opening. Use more of the delicious paste in our Tahini Swirl Brownies.
Tahini Swirl Brownies
You start with brownies and then top them with a swirl of sweetened tahini that gives a delightful nutty depth of flavor and richness. Be sure to use untoasted sesame oil in the batter; the dark, toasted kind would be too strong.
Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs With Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad
Adding tahini to the marinade makes the chicken buttery tender without an overwhelming amount of sesame flavor in the finished dish. It also helps the chicken to char nicely on the grill.
Black Bean Hummus with Queso Fresco
Flavored with lime juice and sprinkled with cilantro, this Mexican-inspired dip is a great go-to appetizer.
We use chef Michael Solomonov's method of steeping fresh garlic in lemon juice to remove its bite and let the tahini shine through. Use the sauce to make a killer hummus. Blend it with a can of chickpeas, some water, olive oil, salt, and cumin until very smooth. We love it with toasted garlic.
Turkey Burger Pitas with Tahini Sauce
Although many cooks consider sauce a condiment or an afterthought, Lisa Richardson developed this recipe around her homemade sauce based on store-bought tahini. Richardson enjoys creating recipes and encourages her 8-year-old daughter to get involved in cooking. "She has her own recipe cards on which she jots down her new dishes," she says. Tahini is condiment that is made from hulled sesame seeds, and it's used in a lot of Mediterranean cooking, as well as traditional hummus. Here, whole wheat pitas hold together a hearty greens, mini turkey burger patties and a creamy, tahini sauce. Think all those delicious, savory flavors of a gyro meet lean protein and sesame spread.
Tahini-Carrot Soup With Pistachios
A hint of toasted sesame oil lends depth to this velvety soup. Use real baby carrots, not the whittled-down packaged ones, which are lacking in flavor. Garnish with sautéed carrot strips.
Spinach, Beet, and Lentil Salad
Raw beets offer earthy flavor and meaty texture and add crunch and color to this salad. Use our beets guide for helpful prep tips and ideas on how to put this spring and fall vegetable to good use in a variety of yummy recipes. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber in this recipe. They make a great addition to soups, stews, salads, vegetarian dishes, and more. Best of all, they're quick-cooking and don't require soaking. Our compilation of favorite recipes features more than 30 dishes featuring various types of lentils.
Dates are naturally so sweet that using frozen yogurt in the shakes proved too cloying; we opt instead for plain whole-milk yogurt frozen in ice-cube trays. For a fitting garnish, rim glasses with white and black sesame seeds.
A little baking soda softens the chickpeas for an ethereally smooth texture. Israelis like a strong tahini presence in their hummus, but you can use less if you like. The tahini will seize up when added to the lemon juice mixture—this is perfectly normal. Thin out with ice-cold water, stirring well with a whisk. The hummus will have the best flavor and will thicken considerably once cooled.
We suggest building a hummus bar for your guests and enjoying the Israeli way: Spread in a shallow bowl, and piled with toppings. The next three recipes are a great place to start.
Chocolate-Tahini Banana Bread
Bananas and peanut butter are a likely duo, but bananas and tahini? Mind-blowing. For those with nut allergies, tahini is a great, slightly more complex, substitute. Try spreading Soom's chocolate-sesame spread over each slice for an extra tahini hit. Expert tip: whenever you find yourself with over-ripe bananas but without time to make a banana bread loaf, peel the bananas and freeze them, then simply defrost and add to your banana bread recipe when you're ready to make it.
Acorn Squash with Pomegranate and Kale Tabbouleh
This is a fun dish to "carve" at the table, as each person gets one wedge to enjoy as a side dish. For an entrée take, give each person half a squash.
White Chocolate-Tahini Cookies
This isn't your average chocolate chip cookie, and you'll be glad of it. Tahini adds a delectable warmth to this cookie dough, which blunts the sweetness of the white chocolate. If you don't like white chocolate, bittersweet or dark chocolate would make a delicious substitute.
Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish
Think of this recipe as destructed falafel, sans deep-fryer. We combine the ingredients of the classic Middle Eastern dish—chickpeas, bold spices, tahini, and breadcrumbs—and bake it inside hollowed out eggplants until golden brown. To finish the dish, we drizzle over a honey-tahini sauce and add a scoop of tangy tomato-cucumber-red onion relish.
Tahini-Lemon Kale Salad
Highlighting tahini, quinoa, kale, and lemon, this ultra-nutritious salad is a tasty and satisfying dish to rack up your essential vitamins.
Grilled Baba Ghanoush
Grilling the eggplant adds a charred note to this classic Middle Eastern dip. Let the slices steam after cooking so the flesh becomes even more tender. Serve with toasted pita, slices cucumber, or fennel.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate and Tahini
Pomegranate seeds and tahini paste deliver delightful Mediterranean flavors in this quick winter side. Bonus: each serving, about a half cup only contains 152 calories.
Pumpkinseed, Date, and Tahini Bars
When you're on the run, battle hunger pangs with an easy-to-make and satisfying snack.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
This vibrant-colored hummus is a welcome addition to any table. Serve with crudités for an appetizer that won’t ruin your appetite.
Middle Eastern Kofta Kebabs with Lemon-Tahini Sauce
Cooked quinoa acts as a binder for these kebabs, packing them with extra protein and some whole-grain goodness.
Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce
If you can't find tahini, substitute an equal amount of peanut butter to make the sauce for these Middle East–inspired sandwiches. You can prepare the sauce and chicken ahead of time and stuff the pitas when you're ready to eat.
Chicken Tabbouleh with Tahini Drizzle
A salad of parsley, bulgur, and tomato, tabbouleh is traditionally served as part of mezze, the Middle East's version of tapas. Here, sautéed chicken thighs and a creamy sesame sauce turn the bulgur salad into a main dish. This healthy meal-in-a-bowl comes from Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything.
White Bean and Pumpkin Hummus With Pita Chips
If you think you've seen pumpkin spice in every food, think again. This lightly sweet and smoky take on hummus is the perfect snack or a fitting starter for any autumn gathering. Without being overly sweet, this festive dip is the perfect addition to your next Halloween or fall-inspired spread.
Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish
A sandwich of chickpea fritters in pita bread, falafel ranks amont the world's most popular Middle Eastern foods. Here's a re-imagining of the same elements—seasoned mashed chickpeas, tahini sauce, and tomato relish—stuffed into roasted eggplant instead of pita pockets. It makes a satisfying vegetarian main dish.
Cauliflower and Chickpea Quinoa with Tahini Drizzle
Roasting adds an earthy depth of flavor to the veggies, but you can save time by keeping them raw—just toss right into the quinoa.
This shake tastes like sesame candy because of the tahini—a thin, ground-up sesame seed paste that can be used in the same manner as peanut butter. Look for tahini made of hulled toasted sesame seeds for the best flavor.
Fried Cauliflower with Tahini and Pomegranate Seeds
Cilantro gives this a bright, zippy taste and lovely color; the leaves are especially festive when strewn with pomegranate arils over the cauliflower. Serve with hot sauce and cut lemons, if you wish.
"I came up with this recipe because I had an eggplant I wanted to use,” said one Cooking Light reader. “I noticed, when looking at my favorite recipes for hummus and baba ghanoush, that they were quite similar, so I combined the two, making a large amount of dip with half the work. I make this dish for parties. Leftovers are great for snacks and sandwiches (especially served in a pita with lettuce and roasted peppers)."
Ginger-Sesame Green Beans
A few, high-flavored ingredients liven up Ginger-Sesame Green Beans.
Grilled Chicken Pitas With Sesame Drizzle
Look for jars or cans of tahini on the international aisle of the supermarket. It adds nutty flavor and keeps the sandwich moist.
Roasted Eggplant With Pomegranate, Pickled Chiles, and Pecans
Eggplant is a staple in the Middle East, and they sure do know how to cook it. It's stellar: smoky and light and not at all bitter. The trick is to cook it whole over a gas stovetop burner or on a hot grill. The outside gets all charred as the inside steams, gathering a nice smoky overtone and becoming perfectly cooked. Toasted pecans and pickled jalapeños infuse some Southern accents into the traditional dish. If you can't find pomegranate arils (they come already "shucked" in the produce section), just omit them, or drizzle on a wee bit of pomegranate molasses.
Crunchy Sesame Cookies
Roasted sesame-seed paste and dark sesame oil deliver a deep, nutty flavor. A touch of corn syrup and cornstarch ensure crispness.
Herbed Greek Chicken Salad
Greek seasoning―as simple as oregano and lemon―pairs fantastically with chicken and forms the base for this fresh and healthful salad. Yogurt and tahini make a creamy dressing, while kalamata olives and feta cheese add their own distinctly Greek flavors to the party. Each large, satisfying serving has only 243 calories.
Spicy Chicken Shawarma
This chicken shawarma is a Middle Eastern version of a gyro and features thin slices of chicken mixed with yogurt and wrapped in pita bread spread with tahini. The sandwiches are then topped with fresh cucumber, tomato, and onion.
Open-Faced Falafel Burgers
This Middle Eastern vegetarian sandwich is typically stuffed in a pita, but our version offers a more eye-catching presentation. Garnish with parsley.