Creamy, flavorful, and delicious, this Saucy Tahini Pasta with Crispy Tofu is a bowl full of delicious that’s ready in 20 minutes or less. Load it up with your favorite veggies and customize the sauce to your liking for your new favorite go-to lunch or dinner.
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Hey Internet, I don’t know about you, but I kinda scroll a lot on Instagram. Like a lot.
I get inspired by all sorts of things. Sometimes it’s just a picture of a landscape or a plant. And sometimes it’s a direct dish, often by a non-vegan blogger.
This time I was inspired by Half Baked Harvest, though to be honest I’m very often inspired by her even though she is not a vegan food blogger. I just think her work is creative and beautiful.
So I was inspired by her tahini noodles to create my own tahini pasta. The flavors of the sauce are similar to hers--much like a peanut noodles type of sauce but with tahini.
Of course her sweet potatoes looked good too, so go to her saucy tahini noodles page if you want to check those out (I’m not the hugest fan of sweet potatoes so that’s why I went with tofu).
This recipe is so easy to make and super customizable. Change the tahini pasta sauce to be made with another seed or nut butter like sunbutter, peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter.
Or change the veggies to broccoli, or peppers, or cabbage, or bok choy, or whatever you like.
Change out the protein for tempeh, soy curls, seitan, or a pre-prepared vegan meat from the grocery store.
And top it with whatever you like! I added cilantro to my bowl but left it off my husband’s, but we both enjoyed roasted sesame seeds and green onions.
This vegan tahini pasta also kept surprisingly well and was still delicious the next day. If refrigerating for longer I’d keep the veggies separate till the day you eat it. The delicate herbs and cucumbers are better fresh.
This dish is also easy to make gluten-free using GF pasta and gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce.
What You’ll Need
For the tahini pasta:
- One pound pasta of choice: Use gluten-free if needed and cook according to package directions. I used bucatini pasta.
- Good quality tahini: Use a tahini that you like the taste of on its own. It should not be bitter. I get my tahini from a local market that has a large mediterranean section--I encourage you to see what’s in your area. If shopping online, Soom Foods Tahini is the best I’ve tried. But many are good, so read reviews. Substitutes include peanut butter, sunbutter, almond butter, or cashew butter. Some of these may be quite thick, in which case use a little less and thin with water until you have the right amount (½ cup + 2 tablespoons).
- Soy Sauce: I pretty much exclusively use reduced sodium soy sauce as I find the regular stuff is too salty for me. If you only have the regular stuff, add half the amount, mix the rest of the sauce, taste, and see if you need more. For gluten-free folks, use gluten-free tamari.
- Toasted sesame oil: This is optional but it adds good flavor. If you are oil-free, skip it. You can thin the sauce with water or a tad extra soy sauce if needed.
- Agave or sweetener of choice: Use less if using granulated sugar. Add to taste.
- Lime juice: Fresh squeezed is best. My brother recently visited me and taught me how to pick out limes: find limes that have smooth skin and are relatively heavy for their size. That means they’re juicy. A tip on squeezing them is to roll them on the cutting board underneath the palm of your hand for a few seconds before cutting them. Then use a citrus press to get all the juices out.
- Rice vinegar: White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work in a pinch, or just add a little more lime juice if needed.
- Chili paste: I used thai red chili paste but sambal oelek or sriracha would also work. Skip if you don’t like spicy.
- Spices: I used ground ginger and granulated garlic in this recipe, but you could grate or mince fresh ginger and garlic if you prefer. As with everything, use to taste--add or reduce based on your personal preference.
For the rest:
- Crispy tofu or protein of choice
- Sliced cucumbers (I used little Persian cucumbers)
- Kale or spinach or bok choy (I used lacinato kale)
- Fresh basil and cilantro
- Fresh green onion
- Sesame seeds (roasted or not)
- Whatever else you want!
How to Make Saucy Tahini Pasta
- If you’re making crispy tofu, puffed tofu, or something like that to go with this, start that first.
- Then start a pot of water boiling. When it’s to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions and strain water. If you want a cool tahini pasta (that’s how I served mine but it’s good either cool or warm), rinse the pasta in cold running water and return to the pot.
- While the pasta is cooking (and your tofu if making that too), chop up your greens. If using kale or another dark leafy green (like chard), you may opt to place it in a bowl and give it a massage with either a neutral oil or lemon/lime juice and a pinch of salt. This makes it much easier to eat and pairs nicely with the tahini pasta. Finish chopping the herbs, cucumbers, and green onions now too.
- Make the sauce by combining the tahini, reduced sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari), toasted sesame oil if using (sub a little water or extra soy sauce if not), agave or sweetener of choice, lime juice, rice vinegar, chili paste or sambal oelek or sriracha (if using), ground ginger (or grated fresh ginger), and granulated garlic (or fresh minced garlic) in a bowl or measuring cup. I like to do it in a measuring cup for two reasons: 1.) I can pour the tahini in first and not have to scrape it out of another measuring cup and 2.) I learned it from my momma (who learned it from her momma) and I just can’t stop lol.
- Whisk the sauce until super smooth and thick but it will drip slowly off the whisk. Adjust flavors if desired. Add water to thin only if needed (it will thicken as it sits so keep that in mind).
- Add the sauce to the drained pasta and stir in (I like to use large tongs for this). You can choose to mix everything together or serve the components separately. I mixed in the basil so we’d get a little in every bite. I would have done the same with the cilantro but my husband doesn’t like it so I added mine as a garnish (much heavier handed AFTER the photo, hah).
- Then serve up in bowls and add the remaining toppings: sliced cucumbers, massaged kale or other greens, sliced green onions, sesame seeds ( used a combo of toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds, and your crispy tofu or other protein. Enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftover vegan tahini pasta for up to 3 days. If refrigerating longer than a day, I’d keep the greens and veggies separate from the dressed pasta as they can get a little soggy. Fresh cucumbers and herbs are best whenever possible.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes
This deviates from your typical peanut noodles recipe quite a bit, but the flavors (soy sauce, sesame oil, lime, ginger, garlic, spice, etc.) are still very inspired by the cuisine of many southeast Asian countries.
Obviously I’d never even pretend that any of these dishes (of mine) are remotely authentic. Instead, they’re vegan versions of dishes that I’m inspired by. Here’s some of my favorites you might like if you like this tahini pasta:
- Garlic Noodles
- Vegan Pepper Steak
- Vegan Chicken Teriyaki
- Veggie Lo Mein
- Vegan General Tso’s
- Vegan Chop Suey
- Sweet and Sour Tofu
- Vegan Orange Chicken (Tofu Based)
- Vegan Beef and Broccoli (Tofu Based)
- Tofu Adobo
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. This has become a go-to dinner for us so much that I started adding the herbs and greens to my weekly shopping list.
This tahini pasta is:
- A little bit spicy (but customizable)
- Packed with veggies, proteins, and healthy fats
- And oh so delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!