Saturday, March 22, 2014

Char-Grilled Broccoli Salad With Sweet Tahini

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This salad is loved even by those who claim not to like tahini.  It is delightful as part of a cold buffet or a picnic.
I am on an adventurous streak these days, experimenting with new flavors and cuisines instead of falling back on that which is familiar.  Perhaps it has to do with Spring and its association with new beginnings.  Maybe it's just a phase or an "itch", but the truth is I want to feel excited again about cooking.

Discovering Yotam Ottolenghi has opened new doors for me and has introduced me to new dishes, new flavors and spices  I had never heard of.  It has also pushed me to go out on a limb and experiment with the unknown.  It has been almost as good as having an affair!

Take tahini paste.  First time I tried it was three years ago in hummus.  It took me awhile to like hummus but once I did, I couldn't stop eating it.  A couple of months ago, I bought my first bottle of tahini and made Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from scratch.  Little steps...
The recipe below is the second time I use tahini, this time to make a delicious drizzle for a broccoli salad.  The Ladies Who Lunch (and travel to London) will be most impressed.  They have heard of Ottolenghi.
Tahini  is a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds used in North African, Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is served as a dip on its own or as a major component of hummus and other dishes.  Nowadays you can find it in most supermarkets.  I found mine in the Jewish section at Publix.

I promise you I am not going to turn this blog into a Middle Eastern affair but I will, from time to time, introduce you to new flavors and spices.  I hope you enjoy delving into the unknown and the unexpected, once in awhile, and join me on this culinary adventure. I can't think of a better guide than Yotam Ottolenghi.

We had the broccoli salad last night, together with grilled chicken and royal basmati and wild rice.   We both loved it but agreed that it would show off best if served as part of a cold meal or buffet.

Char-grilled sprouting broccoli with sweet tahini

Serves four.

550g broccoli (1 head)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 oz/40g tahini paste
1½ tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp each black and white sesame seeds, toasted (or just 2 tsp white)

Trim any big leaves off the broccoli and cut off the woody base of the stems. Blanch for three minutes in boiling, salted water until al dente, refresh, drain and leave to dry.

Toss the broccoli in the oil, a teaspoon of salt and a large pinch of pepper, then cook on a very hot ridged griddle pan for two minutes on each side, until slightly charred and smoky. Set aside to cool.

Whisk the tahini, honey, lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of salt, and slowly start to add water half a tablespoon at a time. At first, the sauce will look as if it has split, but it will soon come back together.

Add just enough water to make the sauce the consistency of honey – around three tablespoons in total. Arrange the broccoli on a platter, drizzle with sauce and scatter with sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Yotam Ottolenghi
All photos Lindaraxa



  1. Thanks to your encouragement I checked out two of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbooks from our library and the third one will be on the way to me soon. I was familiar with him from his first cookbook "Plenty," but my only look inside had been on Amazon. Now that I have my hands on Plenty I am very impressed and have made a note to try several recipes. The thing I like most about your broccoli is that it can be served cold. For a long time I collected recipes that could be served either cold or at room temperature. It's amazing how often you need foods like this to take to parties. And I just happen to have both black and white sesame seeds in my refrigerator just waiting to be used.

    1. I'm so glad you're on board! I've had all three books on my bed since I discovered him. Each has more than 15 recipes to try. I think he is one of the most innovative cooks to come around in a long time. I'm beginning to sound like an Ottolenghi groupie!

      BTW I'm really impressed you have both black and white sesame seeds. My spice shelf can't take another bottle and here I am ordering more stuff. If you really go all out, Williams Sonoma carries harissa, sumac, zatar etc.

  2. This looks really really good and I adore broccoli

    1. Martha,

      try it. You'll be the Queen of the Prairie!

  3. This i have made by just roasting in the oven, and then made the fabulous sweetened
    tahini paste. Try it with finely minced garlic, just one med sized clove, it really does
    add continue on with all these types of recipes, this type of food is wonderful
    for our systems....helps flush out...........and don't forget the chili, mixed with the sweetened
    tahini paste does give it a wonderful addition...Sel

    1. Roasting is fine also, but not too long. I actually charred for a couple of minutes on each side on the grill before I put on the recipe. Yes, that extra clove of garlic makes sense.

      I plan to start eating more like this as I get ready for bathing suit time, yuck!

  4. Here's a kale salad I make quite a bit: Two tablespoons of each: tahini, lemon juice, cider vinegar, braggs soy seasoning. Mix and then add 4 T grated parmesan. Massage about half into a sliced raw kale, then toss with the rest. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
    I hope you try it! I love tahini.

    1. I will definitely try. Looking for more ways to prepare kale, the new darling. Good to see you are on board!

  5. First, thanks for your kind words about my chile article. I am so pleased you enjoyed it. You made very fine points about the dearth of peppers in places that should have been pepperful. It is funny who took to them and who didn't, it took the Spanish hundreds of years before they started using what they discovered.

    And.... it's funny. Great minds and all that... the dish I'm doing this week has a tahini kick to it... just in the mood I guess.
    Have a great week!

  6. Oh my, I think I erased what I wrote.
    TO repeat...

    Thanks so much for your kind words about the chile article and your astute observations about the odd way peppers circulated and who took to them and who didn't. Even the Spanish who found them were not so hot about it for hundreds of years.

    Also, I am doing something with tahini this week too... great minds think alike??


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