This vegan tahini alfredo pasta with spicy pine nut parmesan is ideal for weeknight comfort noshing. It requires just 30 minutes to prepare (and that's when moving at a leisurely kitchen pace) and makes excellent leftovers, too. Warm pasta is tossed with a super simple tahini-based blender alfredo sauce. The pasta is then finished with a generous sprinkle of spicy pine nut parmesan. Let's get cooking!
If you live in a location where winter is synonymous with cold, then February is likely low on your list of favorite months. Unless you love the cold. Which if you do, please share your secret with the rest of us!
Here in the midwest, February tends to be a mix of snow, cold, and gray. The streets are quiet, as if everyone has either hunkered down for winter hibernation or wisely jetted off to warmer, sunnier places.
And while I don't love the predictably cold nature of February, I genuinely appreciate its ability to incite a heartfelt desire to slow down, cozy up, and reflect.
With less to do outside, there's so much to do within.
Whether that means figuratively turning inward and pausing for reflection or literally spending time "doing" indoors, it's nice that nature offers us these times to pause and restore balance.
During the mid-winter slowdown, I find myself craving lots of comfort foods. Pastas, porridges, and warm curries abound in our kitchen as my body takes a break from the cooler, more rainbow-hued foods like salads and smoothies.
And while I honor the intuitive nudge toward comforting and soul-soothing foods, I enjoy finding ways to infuse the classic comforts with nutrient-dense and life-giving ingredients. Especially ingredients known for targeting a mood- and/or immune-boost.
This easy tahini alfredo pasta checks both of those boxes and is the perfect example of striking the balance between comfort + nourishment.
It's richly creamy and packed with calcium, iron, potassium, mood-boosting magnesium, immune-enhancing zinc, and plenty of healthy fats + plant-powered protein.
To me, this dish exemplifies the beauty of eating this way. It's highly soul-satisfying and indulgent while also offering an abundant array of nutrients to support the mind and body during its winter restoration.
Best of both worlds, no doubt.
If tahini is your thing, this is most certainly a pasta that will suit your fancy.
How to Make Easy Vegan Tahini Alfredo Sauce
This alfredo sauce really couldn't be easier to make.
Simply add the ingredients—tahini, filtered water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper—to a blender, give it a whirl until smooth, and warm it up.
If you don't have a blender, you should be able to get away with a very vigorous whisk of the ingredients (and opt for ½ a teaspoon of garlic powder instead of whole garlic). However, it'll take some muscle on your part and won't be as smooth as if you use a blender.
My point though is you can work with what you have and don't need much more than a bowl and a pot to bring this tahini pasta to life.
How to Make Spicy Pine Nut Parmesan
The spicy pine nut parmesan is also super easy to make. Pulse toasted pine nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt in a small food processor until ground into a grated parmesan texture.
Alternatively and in a gadget pinch, add the pine nuts to a resealable bag and use the back of a heavy spoon to pound and crush them. Then, add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt, reseal the bag and shake to combine.
I love the addition of the red pepper flakes here. They offer a slow-warming kick without being overpowering. And the nuttiness of the pine nuts harmonizes with the subtle lemony tang in the alfredo sauce.
How to Make Vegan Tahini Alfredo Pasta
Once the pasta is cooked and the sauce is warmed through, add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.
You'll want to reserve a bit of the pasta water when you cook your pasta and add it in as you toss. This helps thin the sauce and yields a creamier texture because of the starches held within the pasta water.
Do keep in mind that the more pasta water you add, the more you'll need to season the pasta with salt and pepper to bring its flavors to life.
It's a give-take kitchen moment that beckons the cook to step up to the plate and embrace the intuitive seasoning abilities of a chef.
Trust yourself here and don't be afraid to play with the seasonings.
If it tastes like something's missing, it's almost always salt or acid. Add more salt or fresh lemon juice (or both) as needed to suit your tastes and really bring this humble pasta dish to life. ✨
Once the pasta is coated in the tahini alfredo sauce, add about half of the pine nut parmesan and toss to coat.
I also like to add a sprinkle of freshly chopped herbs. They add a pop of color and a welcomed freshness to this luxurious dish. I typically default to Italian parsley but basil is lovely here, too.
Divide the finished pasta between bowls and top with plenty more pine nut parmesan and another sprinkle of chopped herbs.
To really make the flavors of this pasta sing, I like to finish it with a light drizzle of chili oil. But this is totally optional. If you don't have any on hand, don't worry. A final sprinkle (or not) of crushed red pepper flakes will very nearly achieve the same effect.
If you make this vegan tahini alfredo pasta with spicy pine nut parmesan, let me know! Leave a comment, rate the recipe, and don’t forget to tag a photo #blissfulbasil on Instagram.
Vegan Tahini Alfredo Pasta with Spicy Pine Nut Parmesan
- 12 to 16 ounces gluten-free or regular penne, rigatoni, or other tube-shaped pasta
- ⅔ cup tahini, thoroughly stirred before measuring
- ¾ cup filtered water
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 recipe Spicy Pine Nut Parmesan (see below)
- Chopped Italian parsley or fresh basil, to taste (optional)
- Chili oil, to taste (optional)
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Strain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the tahini Alfredo. Add the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper to a high-speed blender. Blend on high until smooth and emulsified. Set aside.
- Next prepare the Spicy Pine Nut Parm.
- Once the pasta is nearly ready, heat the tahini alfredo sauce in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat until just warmed through.
- Add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat. If needed, add a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce.
- Add about half of the parmesan and stir to incorporate.
- Taste and generously season with salt and red pepper flakes, to taste. If desired, add a bit more lemon juice to brighten and enhance the overall flavor.
- Divide the pasta between bowls. Generously top with the remaining parmesan and garnish with the parsley/basil and chili oil (if using).
- Serve immediately.
Spicy Pine Nut Parmesan
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts*
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- ¼ + ⅛ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Add all ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until ground into a texture that resembles grated parmesan cheese.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.