Who doesn’t love pasta? It always makes for a quick, easy and comforting meal. However, I was getting bored with the traditional red sauce, so I opted to make a sauce with tahini and basil. The sauce is so creamy from the tahini, herby from the basil and fresh from the lemon. The tahini pasta dish tastes like an elevated alfredo pasta. Check out how to make it below!
Preparing the tahini pasta
This tahini pasta is such a great weeknight meal because it can be done from start to finish in just about 20 minutes.
Start by cooking your pasta to your preference. I suggest cooking it according to box instructions for an al dente texture as it will continue to cook in the sauce later on. While the pasta is cooking, begin to prepare the sauce. To a food processor, add the tahini (my favorite is Soom), oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, basil, salt, and pepper. Pulse this mixture until the basil is broken down. Then with the food processor on low, begin to add the water to thin out the tahini sauce. You may use only a little water or the entire half-cup, depending on your desired consistency. Set the sauce aside.
Next, in a skillet over medium heat, add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, add in the chopped asparagus and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Finally, drain the pasta and add both the pasta and tahini to the skillet. Warm all components of the tahini pasta together. Enjoy your tahini pasta with a toasted baguette slice.
What is tahini?
Tahini is a sauce made up of ground sesame seeds; think of it as an alternative to nut butter. Tahini has a nutty flavor, and smooth texture due to the oil content in sesame seeds. It is one of the key ingredients in hummus but can also be used in salad dressings, a spread on toasts, and even desserts. Tahini is an ingredient often used in Middle-Eastern cooking.1
Suitable for dietary restrictions
This tahini pasta is great for those with dietary restrictions, specifically for those who do not consume dairy. You get the same creaminess from the tahini, without the addition of any butter, cream or cheese. Additionally, if you choose a gluten-free or vegetable-based pasta, this recipe is great for those with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease.
Health benefits of the tahini
There are quite a few benefits to incorporating tahini into recipes. Although tahini is high in fat, that majority of that fat is unsaturated.2 According to the American Heart Association, consuming mono- and polyunsaturated fat can reduce risk of heart disease.3,4 Additionally, tahini also has lignans, or a type of fiber, called sesamin, which some research is pointing to being protective against hormone-associated cancers and diseases.5
As for tahini’s nutrient profile, just two tablespoons, is a good source of iron and calcium, and an excellent source of phosphorus.2 These nutrients work to keep our blood oxygenated, and our bones strong.6,7
- Comment: The real history of tahini. SBS. https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2018/01/09/comment-real-history-tahini. Published January 8, 2018. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Wilson DR. Tahini: Nutrition, benefits, diet, and risks. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298585#benefits. Published February 23, 2018. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Polyunsaturated Fat. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/polyunsaturated-fats. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Monounsaturated Fat. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/monounsaturated-fats. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Sato F, Matsui K. 28 – Engineering the biosynthesis of low molecular weight metabolites for quality traits (essential nutrients, health-promoting phytochemicals, volatiles, and aroma compounds). In: Plant Biotechnology and Agriculture Prospects for the 21st Century. Elsevier; 2012:443-461.
- Kohn J. Iron. EatRight. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/iron. Published November 14, 2017. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Calcium and bones: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002062.htm. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- ½ cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 pound cooked pasta your choice, but I like whole wheat rotini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch asparagus trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- In a food processor, add tahini, oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, basil, salt, and pepper. Pulse into the mixture is finely chopped. With machine running, slowly pour in water until the sauce is creamy. You may use slightly less or more than ½ cup, depending on your preference for thickness.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil. Add tomatoes to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, approximately 5 minutes. Add asparagus and continue to cook until tomatoes begin to burst and asparagus is bright and cooked through, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add pasta and basil tahini to skillet and mix together well.