When I came across the recipe for chicken salad with a tahini dressing in Alon Shaya’s new cookbook, “Shaya,” clouds parted to reveal golden rays of sun and the denouement of “When Harry Met Sally” replayed in my head. Huzzah, naturally, of course! Two great foods, made greater together.
The New Orleans chef-restaurateur poaches a skinless whole bird with garlic, salt and fresh oregano, thyme and sage, which he says infuses the meat with even more flavor. I tested it his way and with the meat from a fresh rotisserie bird; in keeping with the ease of recipes in this column, I can say the latter will do your sesame seed paste proud. And you’d be looking for a good-quality tahini — preferably one you can see in a jar — that already looks well blended.
The real genius of his recipe, which I have doctored with carrot and chopped dates, lies in the addition of dukkah, a savory nut-and-spice blend you can buy or DIY. Stir it in at the last minute so it stays crunchy, and you, too, may have a happy moment.
You will have about half the tahini mayonnaise left over, which can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Stir before using.
Serve with warm flatbread or atop a pile of salad greens.
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup good-quality, thick tahini, such as Soom or Camel brands
1 teaspoon finely grated zest and 4 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon water
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups cooked chicken (light and dark meat; from 1 whole rotisserie bird, preferably simply seasoned)
6 or 7 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, scrubbed well and grated (about 1 cup)
3 ounces pitted dates, chopped
¼ cup dukkah (nut and spice blend; see TIP)
Combine the egg yolks, tahini, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the water and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a blender; puree until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the oil to form a thick, ultra-smooth mayonnaise. The yield is about 1 cup; reserve half for another use.
(Alternatively, you can whisk the first 5 ingredients by hand, quite vigorously, then add the oil as directed above.)
Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks, placing them in a mixing bowl as you work. Pour in the half cup of tahini mayo, add the lemon zest and the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, the scallions (to taste), carrot, dates and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, then toss until well incorporated.
Just before serving, stir in the dukkah (so the nut-spice blend stays crunchy). Taste and add more salt, as needed.
NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS | Per serving, based on 6: 330 calories, 23 g protein, 16 g, carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dukkah is a savory nut-and-spice blend, available at Trader Joe’s, some Middle Eastern markets and through online purveyors including Amazon.com. Or you can make your own; find the recipe at washingtonpost.com/recipes.