Domesticity Nouveau

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tasty Tahini

Do you ever look at something in the store and just feel totally ripped off for buying it?  I do all the time.   Tahini is one of the most recent ones. 

I have been craving hummus, good hummus, the kind you get at restaurants and dream about (yes, I dream about hummus).  It’s ground up beans (garbanzo) with a few seasonings… should be inexpensive… until you get to the tahini, which runs around $7-$10 for a container.  Sesame seeds are inexpensive, so it must be those priceless glass jars it is packaged in that makes it such a luxury item.

Desperate to satisfy my craving, I hit the internet… not a lot out there in terms of making homemade tahini, most call for a lot of oil, which ups the price.  After making homemade peanut butter, and realizing it doesn’t take any oil if you let it run long enough, I got to thinking.  They make peanut oil and they make sesame oil, which means both must have plenty of their own oils… so perhaps if I let the little sesame seeds run long enough in the food processor, like I do with the peanut butter, the same beautiful silky result would occur. 

It does.

Well, almost.  It does take a wee bit of oil, but not nearly as much as the recipes I came across would suggest.   And it is cheap!  A pound of sesame seeds is around $2 at my favorite bulk store and that will make enough for plenty of hummus and other tahini based yummies.  $2 plus a wee bit of time verses $10 for convenience… well, you know where I stand on that!

So here, in its entire splendor, is the recipe for tahini and the most amazing hummus you will ever have!


12 oz Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread sesame seeds evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet.  I like to line it with foil so that it makes transferring them to the food processor a snap. It can be a wee bit messy to swoosh them into the food processor off the cookies sheet.  Using the foil as a lift and dump device makes it easier.

Toast sesame seeds until golden in color, about 10-15 minutes depending on how thin your layer of seeds is.  Make sure to stir after 5 minutes, and then every 2-3 minutes.  You don’t want them underdone because it will make a bit of a bitter tahini, you don’t want them overdone because, well that will be a bit of a burnt and bitter tahini.  You need the Goldilocks perfect golden brown.  They will continue toasting for a few moments after you remove them, so error on the side of underdone, you can always stick them back in.

Once your seeds are toasted, let them cool for a few moment, then place them in a food processor with the 'S' blade.  Turn your beast on, and whirl those little seeds around.  Slowly drizzle in 2 TBSP olive oil.  Let the machine whirl and whirl for a couple of minutes until you can see the paste starting to form.  Scrape down the sides occasionally until it all becomes liquefied. 

Wasn’t that easy!

Dreamy Hummus
1/2 cup dried garbanzo beans (aka chick peas)
1 qt water
1/4 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup tahini
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin
Dash of cayenne pepper

Soak dried beans for 8 hours.  Drain, rinse and cover with 1 quart fresh water (4 cups).  Bring to a boil with 1/4 tsp baking soda.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook about 45-60 minutes, until quite tender.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  You can do this a day or two ahead if you want.  You can even cook a double batch and freeze 1/2 for the next time you want to make hummus.

In a small bowl combine lemon juice and water and in another small bowl combine tahini and olive oil.

In the food processor, whirl together the cooked beans, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne.  Scrape down the bowl and while the machine is going, slowly pour in the lemon juice and water.  Scrape down the bowl again and then slowly drizzle in the tahini and olive oil while running.  Let it all whirl around for a minute or two, scraping down the sides as needed. 

Hummus is often served smoothed on a plate, drizzled with a good olive oil and lightly dusted with paprika.  A few little parsley bits make a nice garnish, too… or, you can do as I am often tempted to do, which is hide in the closet with the hummus, a spoon, and a giant grin.

Every cook likes things a little different, you might like a little more lemon or tahini or cumin.  A little more water or oil will make it a bit thinner; a little less a bit thicker. Play around and once you get your preferences down, you can start having fun making all those very expensive hummuses (is that a word?!) in tiny containers you see at the market.  Maybe try using roasted garlic instead of raw.  Or add in some sun dried tomatoes or roasted red pepper.  Maybe a little fresh basil or thyme.  You could make a dressing by whipping together equal parts of hummus, yogurt and olive oil.  Or just hide in the closet with a spoon.