Just in time for summer and its salads, tahini sauce. This is the way its supposed to taste. Unlike that other weirdness you get at pretty much every other place that sells food that is traditionally incorporated with tahini sauce, this stuff will blow your socks off AND belongs on baguettes, or better yet, fresh made pita, (yes, I'll post my pita recipe next - which is also the best pita recipe - and 100% traditional ((and if you have the ambition to attempt this next to a camp fire without an oven, like the real thing in some places, like Sinai, then you should go right on ahead (((at least around here its less likely you'll get sand in the dough))) as well as salads. Make sure to sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of that salad you just tossed with cucumber, romaine, tomato, and read onion.
25 very large cloves fresh garlic
10-20 lemons, depending on size and freshness (to yield 2 cups strained juice)
2 cups (16 ozs. liquid measure) canned sesame tahini – Sahadi or Joyva brand*
2 1/4-2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Peel garlic, trim off tough root nubs, and chop coarsely. Squeeze and strain enough lemons to total 2 cups of juice. If making a partial batch (i.e., not using whole can of tahini paste), stir tahini paste until totally re-homogenized and smooth before measuring out to be sure that sesame oil and pulp are evenly distributed.
2. Puree garlic to a totally smooth, almost silky paste by processing with the salt in a food processor (or a blender, if no processor is available). Scrape down contents often with a rubber spatula. Ideally, process garlic and salt in a small—“mini”—food processor, if available. If no machine is available: Put cut up garlic cloves through a garlic press, or chop super finely with a knife; then grind with the salt in a mortar w/pestle until totally smooth; or grind garlic and salt to a paste on a wooden board with the flat side of a heavy knife blade or with a smooth rock—any heavy, blunt object will do—using circular, pressing-down motion. (Salt works like sand to abrade and grind down garlic fibers.).
3. In a normal-size food processor with motor running (or in a blender, 1/4 batch at a time), process garlic mixture with the tahini paste while drizzling in the lemon juice. Process until totally blended. If working by hand, not machine, beat ingredients together in a bowl with a large spoon. Taste and correct flavor balance. Note: Sauce should be tasted on bread or it will seem too strong even if it is perfect.
4. Sauce is now suitable for adding to cooked, drained, ground chick peas to make humus (see recipe); to roasted, mashed eggplant to make baba ghannoush (see recipe); to chopped Italian parsley for a traditional Middle Eastern sauce or dip; or to be thinned with a little water for salad dressing. Refrigerated, keeps well for over a week and never actually spoils; but, over time, you will notice diminished and changed flavor as garlic and lemon both weaken and ferment slightly. So freeze for long-term storage.
Makes 1 quart plus 1/2 cup
*Sahadi brand is first rate and (in Eugene) has been available at the Red Barn from time to time. P.C. Market on Franklin Ave. stocks Joyva, which is second best. Both are made to Middle Eastern (as distinct from “new age”) standards—seeds are well roasted, etc. Do not substitute Maranatha, Jerusalem or any other unroasted (raw) or lightly roasted product; it doesn’t taste correct. Other authentic brands of Middle Eastern tahini paste are available in Middle Eastern markets and the Middle-Eastern aisle of Plaza Latina market, in Eugene.
Tahini Salad Dressing
For dressing, add water—a couple of tablespoons at a time—to a quantity of tahini sauce slightly less than looks “right” for a single salad, whisking or beating in until homogenized. Vegetables will further dilute dressing; so take this into consideration when you taste to correct balance of tahini sauce to water.