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tahini

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

Does soup get any more gorgeous than this? I knew immediately after seeing this on Dishing Up the Dirt that I needed to whip up this vibrant creation for my own spoon and bowl.

Beets always yield such beauty.

Beets

Beets really do lend themselves well to easily dazzling up a dinner. Here are a few past favorites that deck out the kitchen table in red: Pickled Beets, Smoky Black Bean and Beet Burgers with Herb Yogurt Sauce, Purple Summer Tabbouleh.

I’m adding this soup to the list.

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

Beyond feeling decadent from pure looks alone, this soup has a nice earthy flavor that gets complimented by some rather stellar toppings. First, there’s the tahini. You can almost always count me in for tahini-topped anything, and it’s creamy combination with beets is no different. This particular sauce adds a slight lemony-tang to the sweet beets, and is absolutely perfect with the specks of parsley you’ll catch on most bites. Feel free to omit the allspice from the sauce – it’ll add subtle, but not mandatory, notes of flavor.

Beets

Then, there’s the za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern herb and spice blend that is speckled with sesame seeds. Toasted in a pan with pine nuts, it takes on this woodsy flavor that’s hard to describe as anything but unique. Here, it adds an easy punch of flavor that allows this soup to remain simple to make, and to rely on the freshness of its garden ingredients.

Beet Soup with Tahini and Pine Nut Za’atar

But enough words already. Likely, if you’re going to make this soup, it was its visual representation that snagged your eye. Bring its beauty to your own bowl, might I suggest alongside a crusty, toasty slice of bread.

Beets

P.S. Stop by Andrea’s blog, Dishing Up the Dirt, if you get the chance. It’s a winner.

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Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Socca and tahini have pretty much been my main obsessions for the past year. Although, my love affair with tahini really extends much further back than that. If you’re not on the sesame tahini train, I advise you to get on it. (Come aboard the Soom train, and you’ll get an extra smooth ride.)

Socca still feels new to me though, with what seems like a never-ending number of ways I could imagine it being used. In fact, that’s what I love about both tahini and socca – they can be reinvented in so many different ways, including this latest creation where the two team up together.

Socca with Swiss Chard, Pine Nuts and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Swiss chard is of course yet another lovely ingredient. Add it to anything, and what will result is the magical appearance of something beautiful. Those colors…pretty much the embodiment of spring at its best.

It’s as vibrant as the weeping cherry tree and pink tulip filled gardens, and as tasty as the greens that are beginning to show up in them. Magic.

Swiss Chard Stalks

Here, swiss chard gets a simple saute to create a light and healthy, seasonal topping for the tender socca that’s placed beneath. A tangy yogurt-tahini sauce richens it up, and creates a meal you’ll want to make again. And again. And again. Until your tahini jar runs out, and you move onto a new socca creation.

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Cut into quarters and serve as a meal for two, or divide into smaller pieces for a fun pre-dinner or party app. Note, you will want to serve this up with a fork. You’ll find the socca dough to be rather tender in comparison to pizza or other similarly-styled dishes. It’s more than worth the fork though, and even slightly messy hands if need be!

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Jerusalem’s Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

Jerusalem's Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

One of my roommates recently picked up the Jerusalem cookbook. It’s always been one of my favorites to peruse, along with Ottolenghi’s other book, Plenty. I’ve never owned either of the books but have many friends who do, and from their pages, I have loved pretty much every recipe I’ve had the pleasure of helping to recreate.

Mediterranean cuisine may just be my favorite. And Jerusalem is packed with quality ingredients that bring this style of eating to life.

Winter Butternut

The first Ottolenghi recipe I ever made was essentially the non-pureed form of the one typed out below. That initial dish, a baked butternut and roasted red onion side, is one I make often. It introduced me to the heavenly combination of creamy tahini and nutty squash, which I knew wouldn’t let me down in this recipe.

Jerusalem's Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

Here, that duo is topped with an intriguing addition – date syrup, or as an alternate, molasses. The cookbook explains that date syrup is an intense, natural popular sweetener in the Middle East, and is great for salad dressings, to sweeten stews, or to drizzle over morning porridge. While I am curious to seek that out, the recipe says that the date syrup can be also be swapped for molasses. I decided to go with the latter, one, out of convenience, but also two, because I love molasses yet feel it’s a rather underutilized ingredient in my kitchen. It, too, felt like a surprise ingredient for the dish, and I thought it worked quite well.

Winter Still Life

Creamy and intense, this essentially turns tahini into something that I would eat by the spoonful. However, it’s rich, and is even better when smeared across a crusty bread. Next time, I might add cayenne for some heat, and possibly even a bit of lime or balsamic to cut it a little bit further. Overall though, this was a hit, and would certainly act as a conversation starter if serving to guests. It has this whole sweet-meets-savory dynamic that begs for questions, and also double dipping. Definitely adding this one to the repeat list. Again, another one from Jerusalem that doesn’t disappoint.

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Creamy Carrot Soup with Tahini

Creamy Carrot Soup with Tahini

Happy first Monday of 2015! If that doesn’t sound so cheery, happy first FFF recipe of the year instead. Can we raise our spoons to that? This one is one of my favorites, so whether your with me or not, my soup-destined silverware will be flying high.

Please don’t leave me hanging.

Creamy Carrot Soup with Tahini

This recipe’s actually a simpler rendition of one of my top picks from 2014. A hint of sweetness from the carrots, a touch of not-too-overbearing smokiness from paprika, and a toasty spiciness from the cumin, this velvety soup hits all the right areas. And the tahini on top really seals the deal.

Spicy carrot soup + tahini = heavenly combination. Perhaps the top “omg I need to get healthy” combination of the New Year.

Its tagline? Making resolutions easy, since 2015. Put this Creamy Carrot Soup on your January recipe list, and you’ll soon realize there’s truth in that statement. My recommendation? Pair it with a slice of crusty whole wheat sourdough, and you’re all set. Cheers.

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Harvest Stuffed Squash with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

Swiss Chard

I’m about to give a bit of a confession here – I have yet to buy one single Christmas gift.

That holiday, which I celebrate, is just a handful of days away. Yikes.

In my defense, I have constructively made five cutting boards in the past month. (Hello new, awesome, expensive-but-oh-so-worth-it hobby.) While I may shed a tear as I part with each of them, I’m fairly certain they’ll make for good gifts. For the whole family.

I mean, my five-year-old niece will love a nice, smooth piece of wood, right? Yeah, maybe not.

Harvest Stuffed Squash

While I’ve been neglecting a Christmas shopping trip, I have not been neglecting the season’s signature colors. Rather, I’ve been embracing those reds and greens quite frequently in my kitchen lately, this dish included.

If you squint, or dim the lights, swiss chard will shed a nice holiday crimson onto your counters. Keep that in mind if you were about to call me out. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Hey, swiss chard is pink. You should probably go get your eyes checked.”

Kabocha Squash

Bringing green to your plate is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself this winter. Add some nutty winter squash and creamy tahini, and your tastebuds will be more than pleased, too.

With food-filled gatherings, often left and right, now more than ever do I appreciate a meal like this. It’s hearty so it’ll leave you satisfied, but not feeling weighed down like a typical heavy holiday dish.

Swiss Chard

If you do want to richen it up a bit, double the tahini sauce. You can really rarely go wrong with an extra spoonful of tahini on top of cooked winter squash.

Also, feel free to ditch the whole “stuffed” idea, and simply serve this as a pilaf. You can use any squash variety that you like for this dish. So, if you’re using something like butternut, likely it’s not going to have a round enough bowl to really stuff, and that’s okay. Mash the extra and serve it underneath.

I will say though, there is something that feels magical about turning a squash into a bowl. I used a kabocha, which I’d highly recommend if it’s available to you.

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