Sesame Bars with Thyme


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I am a huge fan of sesame seeds. When I was in my twenties and living in New York City, my daily routine included a bland street coffee and a heavy freshly-made sesame seed bagel, not toasted and loaded with salty butter. The sesame side, that single half that is covered in seeds, remains my favorite. I have about six of them stashed away in my freezer for a rainy day or a carb-fest.

We are not making sesame seed bagels today, but this recipe is heaven for a sesame lover like me. Heaven.

We’re actually making Pasteli, a Greek take on sesame bars. They are completely wholesome – unlike my sesame bagel – and filled with the simplest of ingredients: honey, sesame seeds, thyme and lemon. Evangelina, maker behind Daphnis & Chloe Herbs from Greece, makes them sound so effortless.

Sesame Bars with Thyme

Pasteli (or sesame bars in English) is more or less as old as the Acropolis of Athens. Still, why people buy it pre-made and don’t make it at home is an unsolved mystery.


  • 1/2 kilogram honey (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 kilogram sesame seeds (about 1 pound)
  • 1 lemon's zest, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon of smashed Thyme Buds from Greece
  • 2-3 drops of corn oil or rose water


  1. Roast the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan and leave it aside.
  2. In a large pot, boil the honey for about 10 minutes, then lower the fire and add the sesame, thyme, and grated lemon. Stir well. To test if the mixture is ready, drop some in a glass of water. If it forms an elastic ball, it is ready. If it dissolves, it is not.
  3. Place a large piece of baking paper on a flat surface. Grease it with a few drops of corn oil and sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds over the paper. Lay out the mixture, cover it with a second layer of paper and flatten the bar with a rolling pin until it is about 1 cm thick.
  4. After 10-15 minutes, cut the pasteli into pieces and let it cool completely.
Photos by Evangelina Koutsovoulou.

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