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Datehini: Tasty, Good-For-You Partner for Cheese

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story (which appeared in the 2022 Innovation Issue) mistakenly attributed the cheese pairing quotes to Janet Fletcher of Planet Cheese.

Many of us are familiar with tahini as an ingredient in hummus. The earthy, roasted sesame seed paste native to the Middle East also appears in both sweet and savory recipes—from salad dressings to brownies. Like olive oil and avocados, tahini is high in “good fats,” which can help reduce cholesterol; it is also a source of protein and B vitamins. One California woman is determined to bring more of this healthy product to our pantry shelves.

When she was a young girl, hotel executive and endurance athlete Sezin Kutlu enjoyed tahini for breakfast, spread on toast with date molasses. “Growing up in the Mediterranean, I found myself lucky to enjoy a healthy, nutritious diet,” Kutlu says.

Encouraging her young daughter, Alisa, to follow a similarly healthy diet presented a challenge for Kutlu,
who became concerned about Alisa’s insistent requests for sweet snacks and breakfast foods. Recalling her own childhood breakfast, she came up with Datehini, an organic blend of tahini and Medjool dates grown in Palm Springs. Her Napa-based company, Sepoli, makes three varieties of Datehini: original, vanilla, and cinnamon. Kutlu promotes her products as a wholesome food for the whole family, “Datehini can be used as a healthy alternative to chocolate spreads, a substitute in PB&J’s,” she says. “It gives you sustainable energy.”

Datehini’s creamy blend of sweet and savory flavors make it an unexpected and delicious addition to a cheese board, and because it is made from sesame, it can be enjoyed by those with nut allergies. Kutlu offers suggestions for pairing this new product with cheese.

“The luxurious texture of Datehini demands a firmer cheese that has a denser texture and that will last on the palate. From cloth-aged cheddars, to aged Goudas (love those crunchy crystals), manchego, to
Mimolette to Parmesan.”

“For a toasted cheese sandwich, I recommend a younger semi-firm, good melter with sharpness: young cheddars, or domestic semi-firm cheeses.”

“For easy savory options, Datehini works exceptionally well with fresh goat cheeses. Their higher acidity needs the contrasting sweetness and nuttiness from the Datehini and can easily be applied to crackers or crostini. Or as a simple salad with mixed greens, fresh strawberries, crumbled goat cheese and a vinaigrette made from Datehini with the addition of vinegar or lemon juice.”

Alli Beard

Alli Beard hails from the Midwest but currently resides in Washington, D.C. On her breaks from Instagram-scrolling and cheese-tasting, Alli enjoys listening to her ever-growing vinyl collection, avidly following St. Louis sports and reading poetry at her local coffee shop.

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