This 5-Ingredient Tahini Pasta is a weeknight dinner hero! Just toss your favorite pasta with vibrant spinach and a simple homemade lemon tahini pasta sauce for a delicious, family-friendly meal in under 30 minutes. A quick, plant-based recipe with simple ingredients and bold, Mediterranean-inspired flavors. What's not to love?
As a dietitian and mom of two, I'm always looking for plant-forward meals that will fit into our busy schedules. Convenience is key, and that's exactly what makes this vegan tahini pasta such a gem of a recipe.
Not only is it ready in just 25 minutes, but it also boasts a short list of ingredients and lots of opportunities for customizations to fit your family's preferences.
There's very minimal prep work. Just chop up some spinach and garlic, and you're ready to get cooking. And hey, I'm not going to tell anyone if you use the pre-minced garlic for even less knife work. You do you, friend!
Pasta, spinach, tahini, lemon, garlic. There's no laundry list of ingredients here. And fewer groceries means lower cost, less waste, and minimal effort in the kitchen. This is a win-win-win type of meal.
This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights or whenever you're looking for a simple, vegan and nut-free recipe to serve in under 30 minutes.
The lemon tahini sauce has a rich and creamy texture, along with flavor notes of nutty tahini, bright lemon, and spicy garlic. You'll also stir in some of the water used to cook the pasta at the end. This helps the sauce cling to the pasta for the dreamiest texture. One taste, and you might just consider leaving your standard jarred sauce behind forever!
If you're new to tahini, all I can say is welcome to food heaven. Use up the rest of your jar with this Apple Slaw recipe or pour it on your next batch of roasted vegetables. You can even use tahini in cookies, too!
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe at home.
- Tahini (make sure you have enough so that you don't need to use the clumpy paste in the bottom of the jar.) If you want to go above and beyond, you can even make your own.
- Lemon juice
- Pepper (optional)
- Pasta (I use cavatappi)
- Lemon slices (optional for serving)
- Parsley (optional for serving)
See the recipe card below for exact quantities and preparation methods.
This is a basic run-down of the steps to make tahini pasta. For more detailed instructions, read the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Whisk tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Cook the pasta until al dente (tender but firm to the bite). IMPORTANT! Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water for the sauce. Then, stir in the chopped spinach.
Drain the pasta and spinach. Do not rinse.
Gradually whisk the reserved pasta water into the tahini sauce. The exact amount will depend on the brand of tahini you use.
Mix together the cooked pasta and spinach with the tahini sauce.
Transfer to serving dishes and garnish with lemon, parsley, and black pepper if desired.
Hint: Remember to reserve some of the water used to cook the pasta before you drain it! This can be easy to forget, so consider writing a note or setting a reminder in your phone.
Need to swap out one of the ingredients? Here are a few simple substitutions that work well for this recipe.
- Spinach - instead of spinach, substitute kale. Add the kale during the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking time to allow it to soften.
- Garlic - use ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or omit the garlic entirely if you don't want that flavor.
- Pasta - substitute lentil or chickpea-based pasta for a higher protein option.
- Gluten-free - use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
This is a really great "foundation" type of recipe that you can easily add to or change around to give it a new flavor profile. Here are a few ideas.
- Spicy - add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste) to the tahini sauce.
- Sun-Dried Tomato - Stir in julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes when you add in the spinach.
- Mushroom - Add sautéed mushrooms to the drained cooked pasta before stirring in the tahini sauce.
- Higher Protein - Stir in a can of cannellini (white kidney) beans or chickpeas to the cooked pasta right before you stir in the tahini sauce. (Drain and rinse the canned beans/chickpeas first!)
Try my Vegan Pasta with Mushrooms and Kale for another plant-based pasta dinner with creamy texture.
You'll need a knife and cutting board to chop the garlic and spinach.
Use a medium or large pot to cook the pasta.
You'll also want a colander to drain the pasta once it's cooked. I like to use one that hangs over the sink so I can use both hands to hold the pasta pot.
This recipe tastes best served immediately. If needed, store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
If you’re planning to make this ahead of time, take 2 minutes off of the pasta cooking time so it doesn’t get mushy once reheated.
I haven't tried freezing this recipe. If you would like to try, I recommend storing the pasta and sauce in separate, freezer-safe containers.
Feel free to double the recipe to serve 8, but keep the amount of garlic the same to avoid overwhelming the flavors of the dish.
You will also need to use a large pot instead of a medium one if you plan to double the ingredients.
Make sure you stir the tahini really well before you make the sauce. Don't use the bottom of the jar, because the tahini will be too thick and clumpy. I like to scoop the tahini into a larger bowl and whisk it for a few minutes until it's smooth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Tahini has a texture similar to peanut butter, but it's less sweet. It's made from sesame seeds and has a naturally nutty and slightly bitter and earthy flavor.
Tahini pairs well with lemon (which adds a little brightness) and garlic (which imparts spicy, warm flavor). It's delicious on pasta, salads, grain bowls, and more.
Tahini itself doesn't need to be refrigerated. Store it in a cool dry place, like your pantry. Prepared tahini sauces and dressings, on the other hand, should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Looking for some more vegan dinner options? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with tahini pasta:
Creamy Vegan Lemon Tahini Pasta with Spinach
- Knife and cutting board
- Medium or large pot
Tahini Pasta Sauce:
- ½ cup tahini well stirred (see note)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (optional)
- ½ cup reserved pasta water (see note)
- 8 ounces (226 grams) pasta such as cavatappi
- 6 cups spinach chopped
Optional for Serving:
- Chopped parsley for serving
- Lemon slices for serving
- Black pepper
- Whisk tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a medium or large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Pour in pasta, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender but firm to the bite. (It’s okay for the pasta to be slightly undercooked at this point.) Ladle ½ cup of the pasta water into a glass measuring cup or small bowl.
- Turn off the heat and add the spinach to the pasta. Stir for 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Add the spinach in batches if your pot is not large enough to fit all of it at first. (The spinach will reduce in size as it heats.) Drain the pasta and spinach mixture into a colander (do not rinse).
- Gradually add the reserved pasta water to the tahini sauce mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk until a smooth and creamy texture is reached. You may not need to use all of the reserved pasta water. If the sauce is too thick, gradually whisk in more of the pasta water until desired consistency is reached. (see note).
- Add the cooked pasta and spinach mixture back to the pot and stir in the tahini sauce until the pasta is evenly coated.
- Transfer to serving dishes and garnish with parsley, lemon, and black pepper if desired.