You’ll soon find yourself pouring that date tahini sauce over everything! | arts and culture

I read a lot of cookbooks. I realized long ago that as a teacher, a week that looks like it should be quiet can turn frantic without warning. When this happened, if I was reading a novel or non-fiction title and couldn’t access the book for a few days, I would lose some details of the story and the experience wouldn’t be as enjoyable. So during the school year, I started reading cookbooks, because they have no plot! (To be precise, that’s a bit of a lie because many cookbooks these days incorporate a narrative that can weave through the various sections. Yet, they’re different from other types of books.)

Moussaka is a worthwhile culinary project when cooking for the ones you love

Elizabeth Baer makes moussaka, with love.

I have a lot of cookbooks – 326 to be exact. And if you’re someone who has a lot of cookbooks, I recommend looking into the eat your books website. When I first heard about it my husband was skeptical, but I got a free trial, and since then I always have a tab open on my laptop’s browser so I can use it if needed. It’s basically a database that lets you manage your cookbook collection and search for recipes based on a number of parameters like ingredients, dietary needs, or cuisine.

Even though there are many more cookbooks that I would like to own, I can’t bring myself to buy them all! So I borrow a lot from the library. Right now, I have seven titles in house from various libraries in the area, plus several more on hold that I look forward to checking out soon. We are so lucky to be part of CWMARS, through which you can search online for any book held by public libraries in Western and Central Massachusetts, and when you put books on hold, they will be delivered to your local library to be picked up.

But back to reading many cookbooks. I started noticing an unknown ingredient mentioned in several recently acquired cookbooks in my collection, as well as several I borrowed from the library: date syrup, also known as silan. Although it’s not easy to find locally – some stores have it on the shelf with other sweeteners – I decided to order some to check it out.

As a middle eastern ingredient, I decided to pair it with tahini and yogurt to create a sauce for the veggies. It turned out so good that we put it on everything, including vegetables, chicken and salmon. In the photo, we tasted it with grilled asparagus. If you can’t find or don’t want to order date syrup, try pomegranate molasses, or even fig jam or apple butter. You’ll soon find yourself dousing it all over!


Makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup


1/4 cup tahini

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (preferably fat-free)

1 tablespoon date syrup or other fruit condiment (recommendations above)

2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or similar spice (optional)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Use a pourable measuring cup to make ice water. As you stir the mixture, the tahini will likely seize up and become too stiff. Gradually add ice water, pouring about 1 tablespoon at a time from the measuring cup, and whisk until desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt as needed.

To be enjoyed on chicken, fish or most vegetables. You can even dilute it with olive oil and sherry vinegar to use as a salad dressing.

Freeda S. Scott