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[Photograph: Jamie Silver]

Hummus is a delicious meatless, protein-packed Middle Eastern dip that's perfect to snack on with pita (or other flatbreads) or a wide range of vegetables. It's simple to make: just toss a can of drained chickpeas into a food processor, add a clove of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, some lemon juice, some salt, some pepper, and—wait, don't forget the tahini!

Tahini, a thin paste or spread made from ground sesame seeds, is very tasty and lends an extra nutty quality that transforms chickpeas into hummus. But what if you don't have tahini on hand? Try some peanut butter instead!

No, this is not just another American simplification of a foreign dish. Peanuts and sesame seeds appear regularly in many cuisines and they are often used interchangeably by savvy chefs depending on what's on hand. Nigella Lawson has stated that she actually prefers hummus made with peanut butter over tahini (her recipe also includes Greek yogurt), and a few years ago chef Anita Lo famously misidentified peanut butter as tahini during a blindfolded tasting challenge on Top Chef Masters.

Cans of tahini aren't too hard to find, particularly at stores like Whole Foods or at many Middle Eastern supermarkets. The problem is the jars are usually so large that if you do go ahead and splurge, the contents may be stale by the time you get around to using them a second or third time.

So the next time you're in the mood for some mezze, perhaps you can save yourself an extra trip to the store (and perhaps some money, too) by substituting peanut butter for tahini in your next batch of hummus.

Have you ever made hummus using peanut butter? Ever use peanut butter in place of tahini in another recipe (or vice versa)?

Get the Recipe

Peanut Buttery Hummus (No Tahini) »

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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