Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tahini Dip with Zahtar Pita Chips and Marinated Olives

Many of you may know tahini sauce as the creamy, slightly garlicky condiment that's often served with falafel and other Middle Eastern sandwiches. It also makes a great stand in for hummus. So, if you like the taste and texture of hummus, but don't care much for garbanzo beans, try this delicious dip. Served with spiced pita chips and marinated olives it makes a quick and easy appetizer.

Tahini Dip
Tahini is a paste of ground, hulled, and toasted sesame seeds. It is commonly used in Middle Eastern, North African, Greek, and Turkish cooking. Sesame paste of unhulled, black, toasted seeds is a typical ingredient in China, Korea, and Japan.

1/2  cup of tahini (sesame paste found in specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets), stirred well
1/2  cup of water
1/4  cup olive oil
1/4  cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2  teaspoon sea salt
1/8  teaspoon cumin
1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
chopped parsley for garnish

Mix the first 7 ingredients together until well combined. Consistency should be creamy and not too thin. Add more water if used as a salad dressing or as a sauce for sandwiches.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with chopped parsley and pine nuts before serving.

Zahtar Spiced Pita Chips

Zahtar is a popular herb and spice mix that is being used throughout the Middle East. The most common combinations consist of sesame seeds, salt, sumac, and dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram
In addition to being used as a seasoning for meat and vegetable dishes, it also adds great flavor to salads like the Arabic bread salad fattoush. The most popular use of the spice mixture is probably as a topping for pita bread or yogurt cheese.

3-4  loaves of pita bread
olive oil
zahtar (found in specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Brush pita bread with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with zahtar. Cut each loaf into 8 wedges and place on prepared sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges turn golden brown.

Marinated Olives                           
1 cup green olives 
1 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic red wine vinegar          
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped,
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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