This creamy tahini pasta is creamy and rich with hints of lemon and pepper for added flavor! The nutty tahini and citrusy lemon and garlic make the perfect quick and easy creamy sauce to toss over your favorite pasta. The entire dish comes together in less than 30 minutes for a great weeknight meal!
Not only is this tahini pasta down right delicious, it's also incredibly easy to make! It's as simple as whisking together a few simple ingredients, tossing it with fresh cooked pasta, and topping it with some herbs, cheese, sautéed veggies, or meat of choice. It's basically an elevated mac & cheese the entire family will love!
- Creamy and comforting
- Easy to make in under 30 minutes
- Made gluten free, dairy free, and vegan
- Great weeknight meal the whole family will love
- Very versatile
What is Tahini
Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, similar to how peanut butter is simply peanuts ground up into a paste. It has a deep nutty flavor with a smooth thick consistency. It's not sweet like some nut butters but still has an earthy nut-forward flavor with a slightly bitter taste. It's bitterness pairs super well with the freshness of lemon juice and garlic.
You can find a jar of tahini at most grocery stores, international grocery stores, and online.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pasta - I used small shell shaped chickpea pasta which effortlessly hold the sauce in every nook and cranny of the noodle. You want a noodle that has some ridges to it like rotini, fusilli, bow tie, or penne so the noodle can hold onto the sauce. Use gluten free pasta or even lentil pasta if desired.
- Tahini - The star of the pasta show! Use a tahini brand that uses minimal ingredients. The jar will have some natural oil separation which is exactly what we want to create a smooth and creamy consistency for the sauce.
- Lemon juice - Fresh lemon juice is always best and most flavorful but feel free to use store bought if needed.
- Maple syrup - This adds a touch of sweetness which really compliments the nuttiness of the tahini. Honey or agave can be used as well.
- Olive oil - Adds a little savory flavor. Any type of oil will work like avocado or coconut oil.
- Nutritional yeast - You can find this at most grocery stores these days in the spices section. It provides a little cheesy flavor without the cheese! You can also use 2 tablespoon shredded parmesan if desired.
How to Make Tahini Pasta
You will need a large pot for the pasta and a small bowl to mix the sauce.
Step 1 : Make the pasta. This step is easy. Start by boiling some water in a large pot over medium heat and follow the package instructions to cook the noodles.
Remember to reserve 1 cup of pasta water!
Step 2 : Prepare the sauce. To make the pasta sauce all you have to do is mix all the ingredients including the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl with a spoon. Mix well until the sauce is creamy and thick.
Then start carefully adding splashes of cold water to the bowl and mix to thin out the sauce. The sauce should be thin enough to run off the end of the spoon but thick enough to coat the back of it.
Step 3 : Toss the pasta with the sauce. Drain the pasta from the pot and reserve 1 cup of the water. Transfer the noodles back to the pot and toss with the tahini sauce. Add ½ cup of the pasta water and continue to mix to coat the noodles. Continue to add more pasta water until you reach your desired sauce consistency.
Stir in your veggie of choice, if using one, and toss. Serve the creamy pasta while warm and top with sea salt and black pepper to taste and some fresh herbs if desired.
There are many ways you can make this recipe your own! Here are a few great options:
- Add spinach or peas for some greenery
- Add my turkey meatballs to the pasta if not vegan
- Cook some mushrooms and onions for more bulk
- Sprinkle some chilli flakes or red pepper flakes into the sauce for added heat
How to Store
Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. When ready to eat, add a splash of water and heat on the stove or in the microwave. Mix with a spoon to thin out the sauce and enjoy!
- Use tahini paste that is smooth and creamy. Soom foods brand of tahini is usually my go to. Make sure to use the tahini at the top of the jar and not the thick crusty stuff at the bottom.
- Be sure to add enough cold water to the tahini sauce to thin it out. It should be fairly thin when you pour it over the pasta.
- Cook the noodles until just soft, a notch further than al dente. Because the sauce is not warm, you want the pasta to be soft already as it won't cook any more once tossed in the sauce.
- Taste the noodles once tossed in the sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tahini is made by grinding up sesame seeds into a smooth paste.
Tahini looks a lot like peanut butter but doesn't taste like it. It isn't sweet and has a nutty almost earthy taste. A little lemon and maple syrup are great compliments to tahini and help level out the bitterness.
You can refrigerate tahini to allow it to stay fresh for longer if desired. If you do this though, you want to stir it well to incorporate the oil as it will thicken up in the fridge. You can also store tahini at room temperature which is my preferred method.
Yes, simply use a gluten free pasta to make this pasta dish gluten free.
Check out these recipes for more delicious pasta recipes:
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- 8 oz pasta - I used chickpea noodles, use a noodle that has ridges
- ½ cup tahini - use smooth runny tahini
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice - approx. 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt - plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper - plus more to taste
- ⅓ - ½ cup cold water
- Roasted red peppers - optional, or other veggie
- ½ - 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Fill a pot of water up with water and bring to a boil for the pasta.
- While the water is heating up, make the pasta sauce by whisking together the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. The mixture will be slightly thick and won’t run off the end of a spoon at this point. Carefully mix in splashes of cold water and mix until the sauce is thin enough to run off the end of a spoon yet thick enough to coat the back of it. Set aside.
- Finish cooking the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. Pour the pasta back into the pot and toss the noodles with the tahini pasta sauce. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to help thin out the sauce and continue to toss the pasta. Add more pasta water until you have reached your desired consistency. Stir in the roasted red peppers or other veggie if desired.
- Serve the pasta while warm with salt and pepper on top to taste and enjoy!