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The Replacements: How To Make A Tahini Pasta Sauce

Tahini with Roasted Red Pepper PastaWe here at Plated love inventive dishes, food hacks, and workarounds in the kitchen. In “The Replacements,” we’re focused on swapping out traditional ingredients for inventive choices to rethink classic dishes. These creative, healthy substitutions can enhance recipes and help you experience your meals in a new way.

In the Middle East, people adore tahini so much that they drizzle it on nearly any food, from pita bread to ice cream. All too often we tend to think of the smooth sesame seed paste as a staple for hummus, but today we’re using tahini as a sub for traditional tomato sauce in pasta, adding not only body but also protein and healthy fats.

Here are two ways to use tahini as pasta sauce:

On Hot Pasta
The simplest method for turning tahini into sauce: While cooking 1 pound pasta in boiling water, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add some minced garlic. Stir in 1/3 cup of tahini, adding more oil until the consistency thins enough for a sauce. With a slotted spoon, transfer cooked pasta to the skillet with tahini—add some starchy pasta water to help loosen the tahini sauce and make it creamy. Finish with more herbs, a squeeze of lemon, and grated Parmesan. You can also add sautéed vegetables or stir in a couple handfuls of baby spinach.

In Pasta Salad
You may never go back to mayo. Tahini works in pasta salad as an all-natural vegan substitute. All you need to do is use the jar of sesame paste to make what’s essentially a creamy dressing. For one pound of pasta, mix together ½ cup tahini with 2 to 6 tablespoons water (depending on your desired consistency), fresh orange or lemon juice, and a splash of sesame or olive oil. Season with garlic mashed into a paste, a drizzle of honey, black pepper or cayenne and salt. Bulk up your pasta with raw vegetables like diced red peppers, green onions, and very thinly sliced carrots, then coat everything with the tahini sauce before packing it up for a picnic.

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