One of my favorite stories growing up is Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from One Thousand and One Nights. I’m pretty sure there was a point in time when I ran around the house screaming “OPEN SESAME!” Do you know it? It’s a great book! To this day, whenever I eat anything with sesame seeds, in my head I am still screaming “OPEN SESAME!” Yes, I’m a little odd, but I’ll always be a kid at heart!
Anyhow, there are many things in this world that I love eating but never really thought of where they come from originally or what they are about, and sesame seeds are one of those things. I have to admit, I never put much thought into them, and I knew absolutely nothing about these wondrous seeds. Out of curiosity, I Googled them, and lo and behold, I found out they come from a fruit, aptly named sesame fruit, which I’ve never seen before. So if you’re like me and didn’t know, let me give you a brief lowdown. If you already know all this, well, I salute you, and you can either keep reading or take this moment to have a good glass of vino, beer, or whatever will calm you down a bit, but I hope you stick around.
So here it goes. Sesame plants like warm tropical weather. They most likely originated from Asia and East Africa, and have been around for ages, and I mean ages, like before the time of Moses. People used grounded sesame seeds for flour back in those days. The Chinese have been using them for over 5,000 years and have been known to use sesame oil for their ink blocks, and the Romans used them as a spread. Also, these little tiny seeds have many health benefits, from being rich in much needed minerals that can prevent cancer, migraines, and osteoporosis, to lowering cholesterol. PLUS, THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN! This alone is a win for me, since I’m always on a search for something I can eat and enjoy and keep my skin looking young because I do worry about wrinkles! (And my worrying about wrinkles is probably causing me more wrinkles), but I digress. Now, don’t you feel a little better knowing a little bit more about these seeds? I know I do!
Okay, okay, I’ve rambled enough. I created this toasted sesame salad dressing, because I am one of those people who like to make dressings from scratch. I hardly ever buy ones at the store, partly because I haven’t found one I truly like, but mostly because many of the bottled dressings have ingredients that I don’t really want in my body. I like to experiment with different flavors, and this one is really fantastic, and is a perfect accompaniment to this warm roasted veggie salad I am sharing as well. It’s so easy and yet so full of flavor!
Toasted Sesame Seed Dressing Notes:
(click here for the grocery list)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
In a small pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat. about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and put in a blender. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until well incorporated. That’s it! Easy peasy!
Roasted Root Veggie Notes:
1 can chick peas, drained
4 large carrots
4 large turnips
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Place a large baking sheet in the oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut all the vegetables to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size. In a large bowl, toss all the vegetables with olive oil, garlic, salt an pepper. Remove the baking sheet from the oven carefully and then sprinkle with some olive oil. Place the vegetables evenly on the baking sheet and bake for at least 45 minutes to an hour. If you wish to add chick peas, you can layer it on a separate baking sheet and place in the oven as well.
**You can saute spinach and chard on the stove top with some olive oil, salt, and pepper if you wish to add this to the roasted vegetables. I highly recommend it because it does go so well with this salad. Enjoy!
All photos taken by Maria Kennedy