Sometimes the sauce makes the dish, and when you find a great one, it is worth having different preparations for the different seasons. We are evoking the spirit of tahini (one of our favourite sauces) with this, but making it with almonds in their skins, which brings a great nuttiness. We serve this at Honey & Smoke with peaches in summer, pears in autumn and sweet potatoes in winter. Spring is reserved for green vegetables and they don’t really work with this almond tahini, so we make a special, luxurious pistachio version instead to drizzle over grilled spring greens, dressed with lots of lime juice.
For the Almond tahini
Pour the boiling water over the almonds and set aside while they cool, for about 20–30 minutes. Drain, discard the water, and place the nuts in a food processor. Blitz to a very fine crumb, then add the garlic clove and continue blitzing as you pour in the vegetable oil. Pulse in the sprinkling of sea salt and the vinegar, and finally add the cold water, continuing to mix until everything is well-combined. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
It may seem a little runny now but the sauce will thicken as it settles. You may even need to add a touch more water and salt to loosen it just before serving.
For the sweet potato
Set your EGG to 200˚C. You want the charcoal to be white (this recipe also works well using the residual coals from another cook).
Wash the skin of the sweet potatoes really well and wrap each one in aluminium foil so that it is fully covered. Place the foil parcels directly on the coals. They will take about 45–60 minutes to bake and soften, depending on their size, and it is worth turning them over every 10–15 minutes so that they cook evenly.
You can tell they are ready when the tip of a knife or a skewer can easily penetrate the whole way through. Pull the hot packages out of the embers and leave to cool for a few minutes until you can easily unwrap them.
When you are ready to serve, slit the still-warm sweet potatoes along their tops and push the sides out to reveal the soft inner flesh. Sprinkle with sea salt, spoon in a couple of dollops of almond tahini, top with the chopped smoked almonds and drizzle generously with date molasses before serving.
Extract credit: Honey & Co. Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, published by Pavilion Books. Image credit – Patricia Niven.