Monday, June 07, 2010

Sloppy Sauce (aka Tahini with Miso and Almond Butter)

Several years ago, I left my dog alone at a friend's house for an evening, and returned to find that he had eaten all of the dog food in the house. All of it. When he came to greet us at the front door, he was noticeably larger. We rushed our barrel-shaped pup to the veterinarian, who pronounced him fine (and showed us an amusing x-ray, wherein you could still see all of the individual pieces of kibble in his overly-full stomach). In addition to piece of mind (and a hefty bill), we were given my absolute Favorite Diagnosis Ever: dietary indiscretion. Seriously. Dietary Indiscretion. It's sort of like diagnosis: bad decision-making. I suffer from that all the time.

For the most part, my diet is fairly healthy, full of fresh produce and whole grains and all that good stuff. But sometimes it's not. Sometimes I'm dining out, and the deliciously retro ice cream sundae on the menu calls to me. Or I'm catching up with friends over happy hour, and after a few drinks an order (or three) of fries suddenly seems like a phenomenally brilliant idea. Or I am eating something so addictively delicious, say these little cheese-filled puff pastry palmiers at my friend Sarah's house, and I just cannot stop. Dietary Indiscretion.

After such poor choices, we've come up with a recovery meal known around our household as Hippie Dinner. It's the best way to sop up booze, grease, and bad decisions, and set you on the path to dietary righteousness. There are three elements: whole grains (in the form of some brown rice or quinoa); protein (in the form of marinated tofu or a piece of lean fish); and a huge pile of steamed or sauteed vegetables. Actually, make that 4 elements: the whole plate is topped off with a tahini variation called sloppy sauce.

Sloppy sauce, inspired by a friend who needed to recover from a nearly all-pizza diet, is a great way to make a huge pile of steamed kale and sweet potatoes much more exciting. It starts off like a traditional Middle Eastern tahini sauce, mixing sesame paste with lemon juice and garlic. But it's given a bit of savory heft (and arguable health benefit) from a scoop of miso, and delicious nuttiness from almond butter. I like to further play up the East meets Middle East dimension by stirring in a bit of grated ginger, or a handful of scallions or chopped cilantro if you've got. And sometimes I emphasize the peanut sauce resemblance by using lime juice instead of lemon. As suggested by its name, sloppy sauce is a pretty informal affair, and can be easily adapted to your taste. And it can be enjoyed any time, whether you're recovering from a dietary indiscretion or not.

Sloppy Sauce (aka Tahini with Miso and Almond Butter)

yields ~3/4 cup

1 Tbsp miso (any type)
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp almond butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2" ginger, grated
juice of 1 lemon
handful minced scallions and/or cilantro (optional)

Mix together the miso, tahini, and almond butter until well combined. Stir in the garlic and ginger, then the lemon juice. Add water, a little at a time, until it reaches a thick-but-pourable consistency (~1/4+ cup). Stir in the scallions and/or cilantro, if using. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Pour over whatever hippie concoction you desire. The sauce will thicken upon standing, so just stir in a little additional water or lemon juice to loosen leftovers.


  1. i shall have to try this sauce.

    I like to make a tofu/nutritional yeast/tomato sauce for hippy dinner sometimes. Delicious on broccoli and potatoes especially. With some dijon mustard.........yum.

  2. I have to try it too. If for nothing else to loudly declare I'm eating Sloppy Sauce, since it is a great name!

  3. We have Hippie Dinner about once a week - brown rice, baked tofu and kale usually with some Annie Chun's peanut sauce (from the bottle, gasp) or cilantro pesto if I have time to make it. I'll definitely have to try this variation.

  4. I love how everyone has their own version of hippie dinner. Somehow a decent stir-fry escapes me (perhaps because my 75k BTU burners are still at the shop), but hippie dinner comes out great every time.