Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Tao of Tahini...with Roasted Beets

Roasted Beets with Tahini Sauce

Both of my European parents spent a few years living in Israel before they met.  And both fell in love with Middle Eastern cuisine.  Years later when they married and moved to New York to raise a family, they retained their love for the food.  Tahini is a staple of Israeli menus and it was frequently on our table when I was growing up.  I loved it then and now.  Beets also made appearances thanks to my mother's Russian heritage but I admit I didn't develop a taste for them until I grew up.  What I don't recall is ever seeing them paired back then.

Roasted Beets with Tahini Sauce
Tahini is a paste made of ground up sesame seeds and is high in protein and healthy unsaturated fat.  My parents loved serving it thick, as a dip for pita bread.  But these days I also enjoy using a more thinned out version as a sauce or dressing and it's amazing on grilled chicken and roasted vegetables.  Yes, even on those dreaded childhood beets.  I actually love beets now and roast them almost weekly.  The savory taste of the tahini goes so well with the natural sweetness of the beets.

You can find prepared tahini sauce in large markets, usually near the hummus.  But making your own is so much better and very easy.  The sesame paste can usually be found in the international foods aisle and you can make as much sauce as you need and store the rest of the paste in the fridge for next time.  Enjoy!

2 Red beets
2 Golden beets
1 Tablespoon chopped chives or scallions
2 Tablespoons prepared tahini sauce (recipe follows)

Lemon Tahini Sauce:
1/4 Cup sesame paste
1/4 Cup water
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder
2 Cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
Salt & pepper to taste

Roasted Beets with Tahini Sauce
Wrap the beets in aluminum foil, place the packet on a baking sheet to catch drips and roast in a 400 degree oven for approximately one hour.  The beets should be able to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife.  Allow them to cool before peeling and slicing into bite size chunks.

To make the sauce, combine the tahini paste and water until smooth.  Don't worry if it seems grainy.  Keep whisking or stirring and it will smooth out.  (Note that when you open a jar of the paste, you will notice that a layer of the seed oil is floating on top.  I stir the contents with a spoon until it's a bit more blended before scooping out the amount I need.)  Add the lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  If you like a bit of heat, add a few red pepper flakes.  Fold in the crushed garlic.

You can use the sauce right away but I find its much better if it has a chance to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour and preferably overnight.  The garlic will perfume the sauce without adding the bite of minced garlic.  The sauce will also thicken and will be the perfect consistency to use as a dip.  If you want a more pourable dressing, simply thin it out with a little water.  Pour over the roasted beets or any other roasted veggie.

Check out these other uses for tahini:

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Cucumbers with Tahini and Crumbled Feta


  1. This dish is gorgeous, Anita! Roasted beets are out of this world good!

  2. Your lemon tahini sauce is very much like the one I make for dipping falafels in, Anita. Never thought to drizzle it on roasted vegetables! Very clever!

  3. I love all of the colors. My husband loves beets and I always struggle to find ways to make them.

  4. I am not normally someone who likes beets, but only you, Anita, could make me start rethinking that. This looks delicious!

  5. Anita, a thinned-out tahini sauce is brilliant! I'm sure it goes well with all kinds of foods, but the beets look delicious!

  6. I love tahini. The flavor is just amazing. This vibrant dish looks delicious. Pinned.

  7. Such a pretty salad I would hate to eat it. It looks delicious even without the dressing!


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