I’m always cheered when I see chefs embracing maple syrup as a common ingredient in everyday cooking.  One chef I really admire who does this regularly is Yotam Ottolenghi, who was born in Israel but has since created a cooking empire in England.  Punching ‘maple’ into his recipe search engine pops up a plethora of recipes for dips, dressings, cocktails and pastries that would make any sugarmaker’s heart flutter.

The fluttering came to a full stop, however when I saw he used date syrup (?!) to swirl around this dip and listed maple syrup as a backup option if you cannot source date syrup. In response, I will address him directly.

Mr. Ottolenghi, you have always been a champion of maple syrup, so don’t fail us now.  You simply must try, not only maple syrup, but our Merquén Infused maple syrup to lace this rich and satisfying dip.  I changed your recipe a smidge from the one you listed on your website, using sweet potato in place of butternut but I’m giving you full credit for the inspiration.  It is both sweet and earthy from the potato and tahini and I added some pistachio for crunch.  I also put in lemon juice for a bit of acidic balance.  But the coup de grace is the swirl of Merquén Infused Maple Syrup that gives it spice and smokiness while bringing out the sugars of the sweet potato.  Okay, it isn’t like your original at all but it turned out great and I really think you should try it.

The next time you are in the northwestern Vermont vicinity, stop on by and I will make this for you and we can discuss why maple syrup should be used in all cooking. You may want to pack a sweater and some warm socks seeing as how we are currently 30 degrees colder than London at the moment but we’ll set you up with a quality Buffalo-check wool hat and some Carhartts. And thank you for using maple so darned much in your recipes.

Your devoted fan, Laura Sorkin

Sweet Potato and Tahini Dip with Spicy Merquén Drizzle

  • 1 sweet potato
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, trimmed and peeled
  • 1 yellow onion, trimmed, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp chopped pistachios
  • Runamok Merquén Infused Maple Syrup (also works with Elderberry Infused or Pecan Wood Smoked)
  • Pita chips or crackers for dipping

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut the sweet potato in half and place cut side down on a greased cookie sheet. At the same time, pour a little oil on the onion and put that on the tray as well.  Put the garlic cloves on a small square of tin foil, dribble a few drops of oil on them then wrap them in the foil and put the package on the tray too.  Put the tray in the oven and bake for approximately twenty minutes then remove the package of garlic.  Let the potato and onion bake for another ten minutes or until the potato is very tender and the onion is nicely roasted and soft.  Remove from the oven and cool.

Scoop the orange flesh from the potato and put in a food processor or blender.  Add the roasted onion, garlic cloves, tahini, lemon juice and salt.  Pulse until it becomes a smooth paste.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary.

Put the puree in a shallow dish and make a moat in the center.  Pour some Merquen (or Elderberry or Smoked) Maple Syrup in the moat and then garnish with chopped pistachios.  Serve with pita chips or crackers.

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