Tahini is simple and inexpensive to make and can be used in a variety of delicious sauces and dressings as well as being an essential ingredient in hummus.
1 cup hulled sesame seeds. Unhulled seeds may be used but they can produce a more bitter flavor and the tahini won't be as smooth. 2 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil such as grape seed (preferred), or a light olive oil. Pinch of sea salt. (optional)
Lightly toast the sesame seeds (optional): Add sesame seeds to a wide, dry saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, stirring constantly until the seeds become fragrant and very lightly colored (not brown), 3 to 5 minutes. Be very careful not to burn the seeds which can happen quickly. Transfer toasted seeds to a baking sheet or large plate and cool completely.
Make Tahini Paste: Add sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor then process until a crumbly paste forms, which takes about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil then process for 2 to 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the food processor a couple of times. Check the tahini's consistency. It should be smooth, not gritty and it should be pourable. You may need to process for another minute or add additional oil. Taste the tahini for seasoning then add salt to taste. Process 5 to 10 seconds to mix it in.
How to Store Tahini: Store tahini covered in the refrigerator for one month. You may notice it separates over time, like natural peanut butter. If this happens, give the tahini a good stir before using.