Ottolenghi is one of my biggest inspirations for making vegetables taste great. Adding a little dressing, or topping with a sprinkling of mint or sesame seeds can make all the difference. His Jerusalem cookbook is one of my favourites, which is where I’ve adapted this recipe from. Tahini dressing goes well with a variety of vegetables – I like grilled or roasted broccolini, carrots, cauliflower, aubergine, pumpkin or sweet potato. It makes a good dip with roasted veggie sticks. Tahini paste is essentially ground up sesame seeds, and is used a lot in Middle Eastern, Turkish, Lebanese and Moroccan cuisines. It’s the secret ingredient in hummus. You can add a little honey to the dressing for sweetness, but to stay low carb I steer away from adding it.
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pinch of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper
3 tablespoons of cold tap water
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
PLACE, ADD, STIR, TASTE, SERVE…
Place the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice (making sure you remove any pips) and add a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir with a fork or spoon. Gradually add in the cold water while stirring to combine, until your desired consistency. Stir in the parsley if using. Serve with vegetables of your choice.
Here are some variations of vegetables you can drizzle this over.
Take a head of broccoli and cut it into florets, or a couple of handfuls of broccolini, take the ends off and cut them in half diagonally. Blanch the broccoli in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. You don’t want them to be cooked through, so they should still be a little crunchy. Coat the broccoli or broccolini in a tablespoon of olive oil and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Grill on the pan for a few minutes until slightly char-grilled. Alternatively, throw them on the barbecue for a few minutes, or place in a hot oven on a tray for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle the tahini dressing on top, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Heat an oven to 200 degrees celcius. Cut a head of cauliflower into florets. Sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and cumin powder, and a dash of oil. Place in a baking dish and in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the tray occassionally to cook evenly. Plate up and drizzle the dressing on top with a sprinkling of seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin.
Chop up some carrots and place them in an oven tray with a sprinkling of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes until browned and cooked through. Drizzle the dressing and scatter some fresh chopped parsley on top.
SWEET POTATO, SQUASH OR PUMPKIN
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees celcius. Chop up your sweet potato, squash or pumpkin into chunks or slices (I usually leave the skin on but you can peel it off if you like) and place in a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper, and add a little thyme or rosemary if you like. Drizzle with olive oil and shake the tray to evenly coat. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and golden. Plate up and drizzle with the tahini dressing. Top with some pine nuts, or serve as it is.
Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices. Generously salt and set aside for 10 minutes. The salt draws out the moisture and bitterness. Rinse well under cold water. Heat a pan with olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side until soft and golden. You can also do this on a barbecue or roast them in an oven with some olive oil. Serve with the dressing and top with some fresh mint.