Why You Need Tahini in Your Pantry

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I think that sense of creativity through food is good for you.

Open up your pantry and there is a pretty good chance you have ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard on the shelf, but likely no tahini. Rachel Simons, one of the founders of Seed + Mill, is on a mission to change that. “We’d love tahini to become the new ketchup,” says Simons who started Seed + Mill alongside Lisa Mendelson and Monica Molenaar in 2016. The trio is bringing freshly milled tahini, artisanal halva and even a goat milk tahini ice cream to the crowds at Chelsea Market in New York City.

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Seed + Mill's founders, Rachel Simons, Monica Molenaar and Lisa Mendelson.

It was Mendelson’s passion for tahini, a staple ingredient in cupboards across the Middle East, that first sparked the idea to first start a business around tahini and halva. The trio of home cooks were passionate about feeding good, quality food to family and friends and decided to find a way to serve this versatile and nutritious ingredient to the masses.

“It’s still a foreign ingredient, even for those who know it as an ingredient for falafel or hummus,” says Simons. “It’s foreign because they don’t know what to do beyond that.” It turns out, there is a lot that can be done with tahini and they are working to introduce it in a broader way. Spread it on your toast, drizzle it over roasted vegetables or get creative and make tahini cookie dough bites or almond rhubarb bars.

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I want our food products to be used in a joyful way, a curious way and an adventurous way.

Made with Ethiopian sesame seeds, the tahini flavor works without being overpowering, making it the perfect addition to something sweet. The store serves multiple flavors of halva, a dessert that is a combination of tahini and sugar (plus ingredients like pistachio, rose oil and marscapone), and have hit a homerun with their goat milk tahini ice cream. “It works really well with sweet and savory and I think people really like that balance of flavor,” she tells us.

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You can feel good about adding it to just about everything because tahini is also packed with a range of nutritional benefits. “Tahini is a huge source of calcium, better than most dairy products, in addition to being a good source of plant-based protein,” says Simons. It’s gluten free, dairy free and a source of copper, iron and vitamin B1. Simon also uses tahini as a fat source when cooking to replace cream or butter since it allows you to get the rich texture but in a nutritious way.

For the Seed + Mill team, it really is all about balance and enjoyment. “I want our food products to be used in a joyful way, a curious way and an adventurous way,” says Simons. “I think that sense of creativity through food is good for you.” This is one superfood that checks all of those boxes.

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