meet the maker: Soom
While falafel and hummus have been popular in the US for quite some time, tahini, an essential ingredient to hummus, has yet to take off in the same way. Soom Foods, founded by three Philadelphia-based sisters, is helping to change that.
Tahini is made from nothing more than roasted sesame seeds, pressed to create a rich, nutty paste that can be used to enhance both sweet and savory dishes, or act as the star in a snack or dessert (see recipes below). And while Soom (the Hebrew word for sesame) is entirely tahini-focused, youngest sister Amy admits that up until 2011, she and her sisters pretty much thought of it as “that white sauce on falafel.”
When oldest sister Shelby was living in Israel that same year, she discovered a new kind of tahini, one made from white Humera seeds from Ethiopia. It was smooth and creamy with a more nutty flavor, and different than the tahini available in the US.
“There wasn’t good tahini available . . . so our solution was to start a company and bring it over!” Amy explains. And while the company started off slow, it’s definitely found success: in 2015, Soom tahini gained notoriety as the key ingredient in Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov’s hummus.
More accolades have followed, and while Soom isn’t yet available at the local corner store, its presence is steadily growing: both the original and chocolate flavors can be found in restaurants and purchased at specialty retail stores across the country, as well as online. Learn more at soomfoods.com
chocolate tahini pudding
While this chocolate tahini is addictive enough to enjoy straight from the jar, it also helps make a wonderfully smooth and healthier version of chocolate pudding. If you’ve never tried avocado as a base for pudding, trust us, you won’t even know it’s in there.
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons SOOM chocolate tahini
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or honey)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
- Crispy rice cereal, for garnish, optional
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish, optional
- Shaved chocolate, for garnish, optional
- Cut avocado in half, remove and discard pit. Scoop out flesh and add to bowl of a food processor along with chocolate tahini, coconut sugar (or honey), vanilla extract, and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Spoon into serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Garnish with crispy rice cereal, sesame seeds, or shaved chocolate (if using) and serve.
Makes 2 small, or 1 large serving.
seeded tahini bites
A healthy snack perfect for little hands to help roll (and eat).
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 2 tablespoons SOOM tahini
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Kosher salt, to taste
- In a food processor, pulse dates. Add tahini, sunflower and chia seeds, and a pinch of salt and process until smooth. Using a small ice cream scoop, portion into bite-sized rounds, squeezing together slightly to form and roll into round balls. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour. Bites will keep chilled for up to 1 week.
photo by Jennifer Johnson