Tahini is a wonderful ingredient, a thick sauce or paste made from sesame seeds. It’s used often in Middle Eastern cooking to add richness and nuttiness to different dishes, and it’s one of the core ingredients in hummus. Here it adds terrific flavor to a substantial dressing that also boasts lemony-ness, a touch of heat from the harissa (a North African chili pepper paste, which also makes appearances in other cuisines, such as Israeli food), and a little bit of sweetness from the honey.
The chickpeas add protein and texture, the cucumbers offer fresh crunch, and the red onions provide color and a spicy bite. The sesame seeds are optional, but they add a toasty layer of flavor and are really easy to make — and make the salad feel very polished.
Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of raw sesame seeds and cook stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes until they start to turn a deeper golden brown and smell nutty. Watch carefully as sesame seeds go from toasted to burned fairly quickly. Take them off the heat as soon as you get them to the color you like, and remove them from the pan.
Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook".