Tahini Yogurt Sauce
My tahini yogurt sauce is a great staple to make ahead of a busy week. It tastes delicious drizzled over roasted vegetables, as a dip for baked falafel, or even as a salad dressing. Make it on Sunday, keep it in the fridge, and enjoy it all week.
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Combining yogurt, tahini, and orange juice creates a very delicious – and addictive – dressing. It is a terrific complement to meat and poultry and a good dip for raw vegetables and pita bread. Add ground cumin or coriander for a spicier variation. This is definitely a crowd pleaser no matter what!
All you need to pull my tahini yogurt sauce recipe together is a whisk and a bowl. Simply combine all of the ingredients and mix well! In this video I am using freshly squeezed orange juice in the tahini yogurt sauce, but if you don’t want to juice an orange by hand, many stores sell freshly squeezed orange juice in the produce section. If you are using this as a salad dressing you may wish to thin it out a bit with water. Add very small amounts at a time- remember you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out! Adjust seasonings as needed after diluting.
Between the Greek yogurt and the tahini, this sauce is a great source of protein. I add my tahini yogurt sauce to lots of vegetarian dishes for that very reason.
What is tahini?
Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, similar to nut butters made with cashews, almonds, peanuts, or hazelnuts. For people with nut allergies, tahini can be a great alternative when baking or cooking. One thing to keep in mind is that tahini generally has a higher oil content than nut butters, so it may not be suitable for all substitutions. Because of the high oil content, many brands will recommend storing in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.
As with all seed and nut butters that don’t have preservatives or fillers, some separation of solids and oil is to be expected. Make sure to mix well before using.
You will most likely find tahini in its golden form, but tahini is also made from black sesame seeds, yielding a richer, deeper flavor. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some, give it a taste! You may find that you can use it just like the typical variety, or you may find new ways to use it.
Where have I seen tahini before?
Tahini is historically a popular ingredient in cuisines from the Eastern Mediterranean region, Western Asia, and North Africa, but in recent years it started showing up more and more in stores and dishes in the United States.
You may be most familiar with tahini as one of the main ingredients in hummus. It blends beautifully with olive oil and chickpeas for form a smooth, nutty, savory dip perfect for baked pita chips or raw vegetables. Tahini is also the main ingredient in halva, a Persian dessert made with sugar and egg whites among other ingredients. I use tahini in two of my favorite dips: edamame hummus and bean dip.
As with other seed and nut butters, tahini can be used just as successfully in savory dishes as it can in sweet dishes. As I mentioned before, tahini can have a higher oil content than other nut butters, so if you are using in baking make sure you adjust the fat accordingly.
Nutritional Benefits of Tahini
I’ve talked a bit in past videos about antioxidants, usually with ingredients like dark fruits such as pomegranates or blueberries, or even chocolate, but tahini is also loaded with antioxidants in the form of lignans. Lignans are also found in other seeds like flax. Antioxidants, in general, protect our bodies from dangerous free radicals, which are unstable molecules that contribute to a number of different diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and cancer. Early animal studies show the specific lignans in sesame seeds can decrease our risk or cancer and protect our livers from free radical damage (1,2).
Tahini is also loaded with nutrients important for bone health including calcium, phosphorus and manganese.
Can I eat Greek yogurt if I have lactose intolerance or sensitivity?
Everyone is different. For one person the level of lactose in a product could be well tolerated, while another person finds the same amount irritating. Knowing your personal limit is important, but also sticking to fermented dairy like yogurt is generally safe.
To start fermentation, friendly bacteria are added to milk. These bacteria break down sugars- aka lactose- in the milk to grow and proliferate. Yogurt gets its sour taste from lactic acid, which is a byproduct of the fermentation process. The longer a product is left to ferment, the less lactose the product will contain. Since lactose is the nutrient in milk that causes so much discomfort, this means people with sensitivities or intolerances should not have a problem if they consume yogurt in appropriate quantities.
In the same way, individuals with lactose intolerance or sensitivity should be able to safely eat other fermented milk products like hard, aged cheeses (e.g., Swiss, parmesan, cheddar, etc.). Higher lactose cheeses include softer or creamier cheeses like brie that those who are lactose intolerant would want to avoid.
- Hosseini MJ, Shahraki J, Tafreshian S, Salimi A, Kamalinejad M, Pourahmad J. Protective effects of Sesamum indicum extract against oxidative stress induced by vanadium on isolated rat hepatocytes. Environ Toxicol. 2016;31(8):979-985.
- Majdalawieh AF, Massri M, Nasrallah GK. A comprehensive review on the anti-cancer properties and mechanisms of action of sesamin, a lignan in sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum). Eur J Pharmacol. 2017;815:512-521.
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup tahini
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- Optional: ½ teaspoon cumin
- Mix all together. For thinner consistency, add water.
- Serve with everything!