And it’s so easy to make!
Tahini sauce
Credit: Getty / Courtesy Soom

When people tell me that they cannot cook, or that they are terrible cooks, the first thing I do is recommend that they begin with condiments. Simple adornments for food can often be the difference between something bland and something with wow factor, and if those anointments are homemade, it makes all the difference. The whole meal can be store-bought and still feel special if you are zhuzhing it with some from-scratch bonuses. Even better, making these extras is fast and easy, and can make the difference with last-minute or weeknight entertaining. 

Buy a bag of salad or a big salad from the salad bar and add a fresh dressing. Serve store-bought hummus with a swirl of homemade herb oil or top a log of basic chevre with a spicy tomato chutney. A rotisserie chicken from the grocery store can still have wow factor with a fresh salsa verde. And your basic quart of ice cream goes all sorts of grand places with homemade caramel or fudge sauce, or a bakery pound cake or angel food cake with fresh fruit compote and slumpy whipped cream.

The best condiment to try first is this dressing

While it can be great to have a whole arsenal of these condiments, I often recommend people begin with one that is versatile. A sauce that can be a dip, salad dressing, sauce for meat or topper for vegetables, or even part of a dessert is a great thing to have in your back pocket. And while I wouldn't recommend you serve a meal where you use one dressing in all these ways, it is nice to know that you have a recipe that can fill in wherever you might have a gap!

Meet Tahini Date Syrup Dressing

The dressing I am using the most these days is a simple and fresh Tahini Date Syrup Dressing. It is creamy, nutty, sweet, and bright, which gives it wonderful variations in how I use it. And it couldn't be simpler to make, so I usually do a large batch and use it over the course of a week. 

Tahini Date Dressing

½ cup tahini (I use Soom, which is a wonderful brand with great deeply roasted flavor)

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3-5 tablespoons cold water

4 tablespoons date syrup (if you cannot find date syrup you can sub 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch freshly ground cardamom (optional)

Put the tahini, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of cold water, the date syrup, salt, and cardamom in a bowl and whisk or use a stick blender to combine. Add more cold water as needed to create a texture that is similar to heavy whipping cream and coats the back of a spoon. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Store in the fridge for up to a week, let come to room temp for at least 30 minutes and shake well before serving.

How to use Tahini Date Syrup Dressing

Here are some easy ways to use this workhorse starting tonight!

  • Use as a dip for raw vegetables or pita chips: Stir in some Greek yogurt or labneh.
  • Use as a salad dressing: Toss your salad with extra virgin olive oil, then drizzle with the tahini dressing.
  • Use as is as a garnish for steamed vegetables, or grilled or roasted meats.
  • Add more date syrup to make a bit sweeter and drizzle over vanilla ice cream, poached pears, or an apple tart.