6 Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Ingredients Trending on Menus

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Chef Wyatt Lash | The Commoner | Pittsburgh

No longer reserved for making hummus, chefs are enjoying tahini on or blended with just about anything. When it comes to vegetables, the sesame seed paste lends an umami-rich, savory note and thickening function when used in dressings and dips. Executive Chef Wyatt Lash at Hotel Monaco’s The Commoner in Pittsburgh uses tahini in a puree made with charred eggplant and 24-hour brined, breaded, and charred cauliflower. This forms the base for a more composed dish with more breaded cauliflower pieces that are fried, tossed in a harissa buffalo sauce, and served with crispy chickpeas, coconut flakes, and a cooling yogurt sauce. 

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Pomegranate Molasses

Chef Heidi Krahling | Insalata’s | San Anselmo, California

More chefs are reaching for pomegranates—from the seeds, juice, and even the molasses made from it—for that bright pop of tang, adding acidity in marinades, salads, sauces, and more. At Insalata’s in San Anselmo, California, chef and co-owner Heidi Krahling uses pomegranate molasses in a one-hour marinade for lamb skewers, combining the ingredient with lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper before broiling or grilling the lamb loin pieces. She serves the skewers with a persimmon chutney made by simmering the fruit with a little brown sugar, cider vinegar, lemons, golden raisins, and a mix of spices that includes ginger, cinnamon sticks, cumin, cardamom, coriander, star anise, and whole cloves. 

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Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona mixes pomegranate molasses with this spice blend of sesame seeds, marjoram, and sumac to marinate lamb loin.

Serve with: a salad of spinach, tomatoes, crumbled feta, and dried figs.

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Much like a burrata appetizer, Ēma in Chicago offers this tangy Middle Eastern yogurt cheese as a refreshing starter.

Serve with: toasted marcona almonds, roasted grapes, burnt honey, and toast points.

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Shaya in New Orleans adds this Yemen condiment of herbs, chillies, coriander, cardamom and lemon juice to its Jerusalem Mixed Grill sandwich.

Serve with: chicken livers and hearts, veal sweetbreads, onions, pita, and tahini.

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At Bread & Wine in Chicago, this spice is used as a bright, slightly sour flavoring for honey yogurt sauce.

Serve with: torn mint leaves to garnish a blend of cooked lentils, carrots, celery, onions, beans, and beets.