Tahini: the most versatile of ingredients

5 tahini recipes that are okay with not being hummus

We need to talk about tahini. This sesame-seed paste is adored in the Middle East, the Med, the whole world, and best-known for the role it plays in hummus. But this is both a blessing and a curse. Because though a life spent attached to hummus is certainly no bad thing (we’d sure take it), it’s this very link that limits tahini in other areas. It’s why when we think of tahini it’s usually for hummus first and for hummus only.

This wastes tahini’s potential, and it’s time we rectified that. It won’t take much – just a few words of encouragement (you’ve got this, tahini!) – to nudge your half-empty jar in a direction away from hummus (it’ll be okay, trust us) and towards recipes that induce just as many ‘wow, that’s good’ compliments.

Must-try dressing

Mixed with yogurt, lemon and honey, tahini creates a loose, creamy dressing that carries roasted carrots out of a wintry state and into something altogether brighter and lighter – ideal with substantial salads such as ones with warm lentils, chick peas or butter beans (plus loads of green herbs for extra freshness).

For a marinade

Or how about tahini the dressing and the marinade? Combine with yogurt, the citrusy lift of lime, punchy garlic and warming tickle of curry powder. First slather most over chicken thighs – for reference, it’s worth noting that chicken is nuts about tahini ­­– before grilling. The rest is saved to serve on the side.

As a butter

Now for the left-field route – tahini butter. In this recipe, the mix is heated and foamed before it’s drizzled, liberally, over roasted cauliflower (spotted the pattern?), pumpkin purée and a complementary handful of hazelnuts. This tahini-meets-butter principle works in other ways, too – beat a dollop through softened butter and use to baste steak, chicken, even lamb, while it sizzles in the pan.

As a dip

Just because we think tahini deserves more than only hummus doesn’t mean its dip days are over. Here, it’s used in a smoky aubergine dip that pairs beautifully with Lebanese beef koftas and demands to be scooped up with warm flatbreads.

Sweet tahini

Tahini is an ideal replacement for butter, so the last – but by no means least – thing to do is take tahini for a walk down sweet street. Delight in the nutty deliciousness with these easy tahini and dark chocolate cookies, then test the theory with your own creations – next time you bake, simply swap half the butter called for with that quantity of tahini.

Okay, fine. Have it your way. Here are all the hummus recipes you and your tahini could ever need.