One of the things that first got me interested in cooking was my love of Middle Eastern food. I loved the interesting flavor combinations and intense spice blends so much that it became my food of choice when eating out at restaurants.
Although many Middle Eastern dishes are quite time-consuming to prepare, the end result is always well worth a little additional effort. The end justifies the means, as Machiavelli believed. Anyway, following my previous rant on the beauty of Overnight Oats, I decided to post another recipe for Overnight Oats (this is arguably my favorite one) but this time, the ingredients combine many of the best (in my opinion) ingredients commonly used in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.
This recipe combines simple vanilla greek yogurt with oats and milk of course, along with delicious tahini paste. For those who do not know what tahini is, it is a delicious spread, analogous to peanut butter in the U.S., except that it’s made from ground sesame seeds. It’s also very healthy, containing high levels of iron, protein, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids (you can read more about tahini benefits here: http://www.wellnesstoday.com/nutrition-recipes/6-great-reasons-to-eat-tahini ).
Tahini also has a very distinct, smooth and creamy flavor, and once you taste it, you’ll realize that it is the star ingredient that gives many Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and baba ganoush their distinct and delicious flavors. And it was always missing in your life…until now.
I also add raisins, cashews, a chopped pitted date, and cinnamon to add some sweet and spicy flavors to the mix. Rose water, another common Middle Eastern ingredient, adds an aromatic floral note. The recipe is topped with some pistachios and pomegranate arils for garnish.
These oats will remind you of a smooth and mysterious Middle Eastern melody caressing your soul with its exotic rhythm….Whoa. Okay, maybe that’s a tad too much passion for breakfast, yes?
Middle Eastern Overnight Oats
• One 5.3 oz container 0% fat vanilla (or honey) greek yogurt
• ¼ cup milk of choice
• ¼ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
• ½ tbsp raisins
• ½ tbsp chopped cashews
• 1 chopped, pitted date
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 2 tsp rose water
• ¾ tbsp tahini paste (re-mix it in tahini paste jar before adding to oats in case oil has separated)
• 2-3 pistachios and pomegranate arils to garnish
Put milk in a jar or stemless wine glass and sprinkle oats over it. Empty yogurt container into jar. Mix ingredients until well combined. Add in the tahini paste and stir until well incorporated. Add in rose water and layer in raisins and cashews. Mix again. Add in cinnamon and incorporate everything well. Garnish with pistachios and pomegranate arils if available. Refrigerate overnight for best results.
*Notes: This ratio of yogurt to milk produces thicker overnight oats than other recipes you might come across. If you prefer thinner, “soupy-er” oats, add ¼ cup more water or milk to the mixture. Using regular yogurt rather than greek will also produce slightly thinner overnight oats. Rose water should be a subtle flavor; adding too much will overpower the other flavors. If you cannot find vanilla or honey yogurt, use plain greek yogurt and add honey to achieve desired sweetness.