Instant Grains & Greens With Tahini

August  7, 2023
0 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 3
Author Notes

From cookbook author Lara Lee, I learned that, with a dynamo of a sauce, you can cook your dinner in nothing more than boiling water. And—if you choose ultra-quick-cooking noodles or grains—that dinner can happen very quickly. Lara’s Genius Vermicelli Tofu Salad with Peanut Sauce uses thin rice noodles, tofu, bean sprouts, and edamame that only need a hot soak; here, I chose grains and greens that do the same. Fonio is a tiny ancient whole grain cultivated in West Africa, available online and at well-stocked grocery stores. Couscous, the North African rolled semolina pasta, makes a good substitute.

The sauce that carries it all is a lemony, garlicky tahini, inspired by taratoor, a staple used widely in Arab cuisines. The proportions here are riffed from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini & Za’atar in Simply Genius, but by borrowing boiling water from the grain pot instead of using room temperature water, the garlic flavor shifts: less punchy, more soft and savory.

A few more tips: If you want to boost the protein, you can top with 8-minute boiled eggs or flaked oil-packed tuna (or other tinned fish), or stir a drained can of chickpeas into the pot along with the greens. Feel free to swap the greens for any other quick-cooking vegetable, and the toppings for other juicy and crunchy ones. If you want to swap the grains, be sure to follow the cooking instructions and water ratios on the package. —Kristen Miglore

What You'll Need
  • For the tahini sauce:
  • 1/4 cup tahini, stirred well
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more for serving
  • For the grains & greens
  • 1/2 cup fonio or couscous (not pearl or Israeli)
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) chopped cooking greens (I like a mix of kale and baby broccoli, chopped ⅓-inch-thick)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3/4 cup snap peas, sliced about ⅓-inch-thick
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 handful parsley leaves or other torn fresh herbs, for serving
  1. Make the Tahini Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the tahini, garlic, and salt. Once the pot is boiling, carefully stir 3 tablespoons of the boiling water into the garlicky tahini, then stir in the lemon juice. The sauce may seize—keep stirring to smooth it out.
  2. In a small pot, bring 1 ¼ cups salted water (1 cup if using couscous) to a boil over high heat. Make sure the pot of water is still rapidly boiling. Stir in the fonio or couscous, let it come back up to a boil, then stir in the greens, ½ teaspoon salt, and olive oil, and let it come up to a boil one more time. Cover the pot, remove from the heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. If the grains are still too firm or too wet at the end of soaking, return to the heat, stirring, until they’re the texture you’re looking for. If they start to stick, add a splash of water and scrape the bottom.
  3. To serve, taste the tahini sauce and adjust the salt and lemon. If you’d like the sauce to be thinner, stir in a splash of cold water. Smear a couple tablespoons of tahini sauce on the bottom of each person’s plate or bowl, add a big scoop of the grains and greens, then top with the sliced snap peas, tomatoes, and herbs. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of salt, especially on the tomatoes. Serve any extra tahini sauce on the side for spooning on top.

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