Have you ever eaten tahini? Even if you think you haven’t…you probably have. Tahini is the paste of ground up sesame seeds and it is traditionally a key ingredient in hummus. Almost like a nut-butter, tahini is creamy, smooth and very nutritious, being pretty high in calcium and iron as well as protein and fiber…and fat. Whatever! Tahini is not perfect.
In any case, when life gets busy and you just don’t have the time or energy to be in the kitchen for too long, you can throw some chopped up vegetables into a bowl, dress them with this tahini salad dressing, and call it a day. During periods of lent, this salad dressing is particularly handy because it is not only vegan, but it also does not contain any additional oil (the sesame seed paste will produce it’s own oil when crushed up however).
Sometimes in life, you have to take risks. Think outside the box. Blaze a new path. It can be scary and uncomfortable, but the rewards are usually worth it. That’s what we have done here. Manestra, a simple, tomato-based pasta soup, is usually made with orzo, but we decided to use pasta shaped as little stars (cue gasps). We were brave. We were ground breakers. We were unintimidated. We were out of orzo.
No matter what small shaped pasta you use, the end result is sure to be delicious. Manestra’s subtle flavour makes it a favourite amongst picky eaters, and when it is served plain (that is, not topped with grated mizithra) it is a perfect vegan and lenten option – particularly when you are all beaned out.
Don’t you just love pink food? Us too! Like strawberry yogourt, raspberry smoothies and cotton candy, taramosalata is beautifully pink. Its colour is not only beautiful, but handy, because when taramosalata has difficulty rolling off the tongue, it’s lovely hue is mentioned, and suddenly, everyone knows what you are referring to. That pink Greek dip is universally understood to be the traditional carp roe spread which is a staple in many Greek restaurants and homes. It is caviar for the masses.
The key ingredient for taramosalata is carp roe (yes, fish eggs), which is called tarama. It can be found in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern stores, or on-line. Tarama is not usually eaten in its pure form, but is instead mixed with other ingredients to create a spread which is delicious slathered over a thick slice of bread, some crackers, or even used as a dip for vegetables.