Creamy tahini pasta with lemon and garlic is a flavorful and easy weeknight dinner. This healthy recipe is made with a handful of simple ingredients and is dairy free, gluten free, nut free, and vegan.
Busy weeknights call for something that comes together quickly, doesn't compromise on taste, and is satiating. This creamy lemon tahini pasta is a great pasta dish that hits all of the above. The creamy pasta sauce has a smooth, rich texture, and umami taste.
Why This Recipe Works
- Versatile - add in fresh or sautéed veggies for a more complete meal, red pepper flakes for some spiciness, fresh herbs, and more.
- Quick - this pasta dish comes together in 15 minutes from start to finish.
- Allergen friendly - tahini is naturally nut free and is a great alternative to other nut butters due to its nutty flavor.
- Ridged pasta- the ridges ensure that the tahini pasta sauce gets tucked into every nook and cranny. Choose options such as fusilli, rigatoni, or Cavatappi.
- Tahini - a sesame paste made from toasted ground sesame seeds. It's a great source of healthy fats and plant-based protein. The type of tahini you choose makes all the difference. Choose a tahini that's runny and has the smoothest texture and the least bitter taste. My favorite brand is Krinos, which can be found at most grocery stores or online. Store at room temperature for the best texture.
- Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest - for both tanginess and a forward lemon flavor.
- Maple syrup - a small amount helps to balance out and improve the flavor of the sauce.
- Garlic powder - adds umami flavor.
- Reserved pasta water - to thin the sauce. You can also use warm water if you forget to reserve some before you drain the pasta or if you use gluten free pasta and the cooked water isn't very starchy.
- Kosher salt & black pepper - to taste.
- Fresh basil - for serving.
How to Make Tahini Pasta
Step 1. Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Reserve one cup of pasta water before draining.
Step 2. While the pasta cooks, make the creamy sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add ½ cup of the pasta water or more to thin until you've reached your desired consistency. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
Step 3. Pour over pasta and serve with the reserved lemon zest, fresh basil leaves, and any optional add-ins.
Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this tahini pasta using what you already have? Here are some ideas...
- Make it gluten-free - use your favorite gluten free pasta such as brown rice pasta, lentil pasta, quinoa pasta, or chickpea pasta.
- Make extra garlicky tahini sauce - add freshly grated garlic cloves to the sauce for more of a punch.
- No fresh basil? - use finely chopped fresh parsley instead.
- Add-ins - nutritional yeast, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, sautéed broccoli, green peas, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled chicken, etc.
How to Store
Store the cooked pasta in an airtight container separately from the creamy lemon tahini sauce in the fridge for 3-4 days.
More Creamy Pasta Recipes
- Pasta With Carrot Sauce & Italian Chickpea Breadcrumbs
- Creamy Lemon Pasta
- Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Spaghetti Alla Nerano
Tahini Pasta With Lemon and Garlic
- reserved lemon zest
- handful of fresh basil leaves or parsley
- optional add-ins such as sautéed vegetables or cooked protein see notes for ideas
- Salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Reserve one cup of pasta water before draining.
- In a small bowl, add the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic powder, and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Whisk to combine, adding more water as needed until you've reached your desired consistency. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Pour over pasta and serve with the reserved lemon zest, fresh basil leaves, and any optional add-ins.