Grilled Broccolini with Tahini. Photo for The Washington Post by Tom McCorkle

Some of the best meals I’ve eaten lately have been at what seems to be a bloom of refined, yet relaxed, Middle Eastern restaurants around the country. I’ve swooned over warm, pillowy pitas, impossibly creamy hummus, and sumptuously charred fish and lamb at Albi in D.C., Galit in Chicago and Shukette in New York, to name a few. As a nutritionist, I’m admittedly biased, but the vegetable dishes at these meals have excited me the most, because instead of feeling secondary to the proteins and breads, they were equally alluring, and made so using the most healthful ingredients.

This recipe is my way of bringing a taste of that home.

It captures one way the vegetables in these restaurants are commonly served: char-cooked and piled on top of a luxurious smear of labneh or yogurt, drizzled with a rich tahini or herb sauce, and showered with fragrant spices and herbs.

It’s a template layered with textures, flavors and aromas that welcome variations galore.

I went with broccolini which, when grilled, becomes tender with lovely crisped edges on the florets. You could roast it instead, if you prefer, or swap in another vegetable, such as roasted carrots or slices of grilled eggplant or zucchini. Arrange it over a smear of labneh or Greek yogurt, drizzle with a lemony tahini sauce, then dust with ground sumac (you could substitute za’atar or finely grated zest from the lemon used in the tahini sauce). A sprinkling of toasted pistachios – you could also use pine nuts or sunflower seeds to make it nut-free – and a shower of fresh mint (or any tender herb), makes it an accolade-worthy dish, delightful as a light meal on its own, scooped with warm pita or as a spread of small plates.

Since you can plate the vegetable warm or at room temperature, it makes for a relaxed, shareable eating experience, which adds to the joy of the dish, and captures the essence of the Middle Eastern table.


Grilled Broccolini With Tahini

4 servings

Make ahead: The broccolini can be grilled and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance; serve warm or at room temperature.

Storage: Refrigerate separately for up to 4 days. The tahini sauce may need to get loosened up with a little water until the desired consistency is reached.

Substitution: No sumac? Use za’atar or finely grated lemon zest.

2 heads broccolini (10 ounces each), tougher bottom third of stems trimmed and discarded


2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fine salt, divided

1/4 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

1/4 cup well-stirred tahini

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water, or more as needed


1/2 cup labneh or Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon ground sumac

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, the small leaves left whole, larger leaves torn

Flaky sea salt

In a large bowl, toss the broccolini with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt until combined.

Prepare a grill for direct heat: If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them on the grill. For a medium-hot fire (400 to 460 degrees), you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Close the lid and open the vents about a quarter of the way. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. (Alternatively, preheat a grill pan to medium-high.)


Grill the broccolini, turning it several times, until it’s tender and the tops are nicely charred, about 6 minutes total.

In a medium dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pistachios, tossing frequently, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool, then coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, stir together the tahini and lemon juice until combined. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of thin pancake batter. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

To serve, spread 2 tablespoons of labneh or yogurt onto each plate. Divide the broccolini among the plates, placing it on top of the yogurt. Drizzle each with the tahini sauce, then evenly divide the pistachios, sumac, mint leaves and the flaky salt.

Nutrition | Per serving: 251 calories, 16g carbohydrates, 1mg cholesterol, 19g fat, 6g fiber, 9g protein, 3g saturated fat, 354mg sodium, 3g sugar

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