Let’s Talk Tahini

What is tahini? It’s ground sesame seeds. It has a smooth, nut butter consistency and a nutty flavor that is slightly bitter. It makes for deliciously creamy sauces, dips, & dressings. If you’re like me, you had limited tahini recipes in your repertoire – until now.

When researching recipes for weekly meal plans, I came across one with tahini that looked fantastic. Knowing that tahini isn’t a common or necessarily cheap ingredient, I wanted to include it in several recipes if I was going to spend the money on it.

So, If you are cooking with me this week, add tahini to your grocery list 🙂

Let’s start with the The Roasted Beet (and their greens) Quinoa Salad. This is a great way to ease yourself into tahini because it’s in the dressing. This salad packs a powerful punch of flavor of which I could not get enough.   If you consider its incredible nutritional value from beets, beet greens, quinoa, tahini, etc., I’d say it’s the best salad I’ve eaten in quite a while!

Now on to the Tahini Collard Greens Cakes. Truth be told…this was not my favorite recipe. I’m not giving up on it though. The potential for something great is definitely in the mix. As it currently stands, though, it is simply “ok.” I have several ideas to improve it as you’ll read about later.  If you have an idea or two, I’d love to hear them too.

Another quick and flavorful dinner is the Kale Salad With Pears, Apples, and Pumpkin Seeds. The key to taking this from good to great is to massage the kale by hand with some lemon juice.  From there, things are easy peasy, lemon squeezy [Ha 🙂 That’s kinda funny, right ?!? I should probably be embarrassed that I’ve humored myself, but…I’m not.]

The Quick Zoodle (Zucchini) Pesto is incredibly fast, fresh, and flavorful.  Drizzle it with some good quality olive oil and top it off with some Parmesan cheese and…there you have it.

The Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers are a great new take on an old classic. You could certainly substitute grass fed, organic beef for the ground turkey. However, I don’t think you’ll miss the beef. Add on the guacamole and your taste buds will be singing your praises.

Easy Apple Muffins are standard snack fare in my house. I make double batches often. We eat one batch over the course of a week and freeze the other.  These babies are an easy, anytime snack.  Pop a frozen one in the microwave for a few seconds, and they are ready to go!

Hope something makes your belly smile.

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Snack


Easy Apple Muffins

Adapted from Weelicious

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. homemade buttermilk (see recipe below) or (alternative organic milk)
1/2 c. honey (preferably local and organic)
1 large organic egg
1 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir In Ingredient
1 c. peeled and chopped organic apples (about 2 medium apples)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. if using silicone muffin cups, greasing is not needed. If using a metal muffin pan, lightly grease with a clean oil (ideas: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil).

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Mix just until combined.  Gently stir in the apples. Fill muffin containers ¾ full and bake approximately 12-15 minutes.

Tips:

  • Mix/stir as little as possible to create fluffy, moist muffins.
  • I don’t like the toothpick test for muffins as I find they are often overdone. Since they continue to cook a bit when removed from the oven, the end result is slightly overcooked and dry muffins. Instead, watch for them to begin releasing from the edge of the baking cup/tin and for a slightly golden color. Once you’ve baked a few batches, you’ll begin to learn your oven’s ideal baking time 🙂

Homemade Buttermilk
2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice
1 c. organic milk

Directions: Stir together both ingredients in a small bowl and allow rest for 5 minutes.


Dinners


Kale Salad With Pears, Apples, and Pumpkin Seeds

 

Adapted from The Roasted Root

1 head or bunch of organic green kale
1 lemon, juiced
1 organic apple, shredded
1 organic pear, thinly sliced
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds (alternatives: pine nuts, walnuts)
½ c. or less Gorgonzola cheese (depending on your love or lack thereof)

Directions: In a large bowl, add the kale and lemon juice. Massage the kale by hand, working the lemon juice into the leaves for about 3-4 minutes. You will notice that the kale softens considerably to the touch. Add all other ingredients and gently toss. Top with Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below).

Balsamic Vinaigrette
¼ c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1/8 t. salt or to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. honey

Directions: Add all ingredients to a glass jar with a lid. Shake vigorously. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for later use.


Tahini Collard Greens Cakes and Organic Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette


Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Tahini Cakes
4 c. organic collard greens, destemmed and torn by hand
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (reserve 1/3 c. for tahini sauce)
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 T. tahini
½ of a lemon, juiced
1/4 t. cumin
sea salt and black pepper
3-4 T. almond meal (alternative: whole white wheat flour)
¼ t. red pepper chili flakes, optional
3-4 T. olive oil (for pan searing)

Ideas For Next Time: I will try whole white wheat flour instead of almond meal. I’ll also increase the seasonings a bit. To me, collard greens have a pretty intense flavor that can be overwhelming. To adjust for this, I’ll also increase the cumin, lemon and tahini to achieve a better flavor balance.

Directions: Add all ingredients to a food processor and combine until smooth, but not puréed to a liquid. Finish by stirring together with a spatula. Warm a nonstick skillet to low/medium heat and add the olive oil. Using a scooper to create evenly sized “pancakes,” drop the batter on the skillet. Slightly press down to create a flat surface. Pan sear on each side for 4-5 minutes, flipping only one. Serve topped with the Greek Yogurt Tahini Sauce (see recipe below).

Greek Yogurt Tahini Sauce (optional)
1/3 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 c. organic plain Greek yogurt
2 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
Sea salt/black pepper
1 T. tahini
¼ t. paprika

Directions: Add all ingredients to a mini food processor or blender. Blend until creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Organic Greens (Salad) with Garlic Vinaigrette

Salad Ideas
2 handfuls of organic greens
¼ c. sliced olives
¼ red onion, very thinly sliced
2 T. feta cheese

Directions: Gently toss all salad ingredients and top with the Garlic Vinaigrette (see recipe below).

Garlic Vinaigrette
¼ c. balsamic vinegar (alternatives: apple cider vinegar, white balsamic vinegar)
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. local honey
sea salt/pepper, freshly ground

Directions:  Add all ingredients to a glass jar with a lid. Shake vigorously. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for later use.


Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

 Adapted from Broke and Bougie

4 organic bell peppers, halved through the stem
1 lb. organic ground turkey
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-14 oz can organic fire roasted tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bell peppers in half from top to bottom (cutting down through the stem), removing the insides. In a large, deep skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the turkey, onion, and dry seasonings (cumin, chili powder, salt/pepper). Break the turkey into little bits with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the diced tomatoes and cook another minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the feta cheese. Lay the bell peppers open faced on a baking sheet. If the peppers don’t lay evenly, slice a thin strip from the bottom to ensure a level surface. Pack the turkey mixture into the peppers. Roast them in the oven for 25-30 minutes. While they are in the oven, prepare the guacamole topping (see recipe below). When the peppers are done, add a scoop of the guacamole before serving.

Guacamole Topping, optional
1 avocado
pinch of sea salt & black pepper
½ of a lemon, squeezed

Directions: In a small bowl, add the avocado, salt/pepper, and lemon juice. Mash with a fork until smooth. Press plastic wrap on the top to prevent browning and refrigerate until ready to use.


Roasted Beet (and their greens) Quinoa Salad


Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

1 bunch of organic beets, including their greens
1 t. sea salt
2 T. olive oil
olive oil for cooking
1 c. cooked and cooled quinoa
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 to 1/3 c. pumpkin seeds (alternatives: walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the beets near the stems, leaving .5” remaining (so you have something to hold on to). Wash the beets with water and dry.  Place the beets in foil (doubled up for thickness) that you’ll eventually wrap them in while roasting.  Before you seal them, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Seal the beets in the foil wrap and roast them in the oven for 45 minutes.

While the beets are roasting, cook the quinoa according to package directions.

While the beets and quinoa are doing their thing, wash and dry the beet greens using a salad spinner.  Destem the leaves and tear them by hand. Set aside the greens.

Prepare the Tahini Dressing (see the recipe below).

When the beets are done roasting, remove them from the oven and carefully open the foil.  Before sliding the skins off of the beets (once slightly cooled), I protect my hands from getting “pinked” by wearing sandwich baggies on each hand.  With the skins removed, dice the beets into cubes.

Assemble the salad, reserving the beets as the final ingredient to prevent the entire salad from turning pink.  Top the salad with the Tahini Dressing.

Tahini Dressing
2 T. tahini
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1-2 t. local honey
3 T. water (or more, if needed)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Add all ingredients to a glass jar with a lid. Shake vigorously. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for later use.


Quick Zoodle (Zucchini) Pesto


Adapted from Cook Eat Paleo

2 large organic zucchini (alternatives: organic yellow squash OR both)
1-2 T. olive oil
1 c. organic cherry tomatoes
3 T. your favorite pesto
Sea salt /freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil for garnish
Parmesan cheese, good quality (topping)

Directions: Use a Spiralizer to make the zucchini/yellow squash noodles (aka: zoodles). Warm a large skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil, followed by the zoodles. To evenly heat the zoodles, toss them with tongs.  When hot, remove the skillet from the heat and immediately add the pesto. Toss the zoodles again to evenly coat them. Add the cherry tomatoes.  Season with salt/pepper to taste. Plate with freshly chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and a final drizzle of olive oil.

Tips: Pesto should not be cooked by a direct heat source. Instead, allow the warm zoodles to “melt” the pesto and evenly coat each strand.

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