Meatless Monday: Tahini pesto pasta

Inspired by flavours from the Middle East and Italy, this dish does not require much prep, which means it can even be done as a make ahead and stored for times when you need a quick no fuss meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients

 Tahini pesto pasta

Tahini pesto pasta

2 cups chick peas (or 15oz can)
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3 cups uncooked pasta
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt, pepper to taste

Tahini pesto
 ¼ cup sesame seeds
2 garlic cloves
1 cup chopped arugula
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
Juice from ½ lemon
6-8 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup finely grated Romano cheese

Method

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, remember to add enough salt. While water is boiling, use this time to toast the sesame seeds. Heat in a flat skillet until golden and remove from heat to cool.
  2. Prepare the pesto by first pulsing the sesame seeds until it begins to form a paste, slowly add the olive oil and lemon juice. Add remaining ingredients for the pesto and continue blending.  Do not add too much salt at this stage as the cheese is salty. The final consistency should be smooth and have a bright green colour.
  3. With less than a minute to go in cooking the pasta, add the chick peas. This ensures both ingredients are the same temperature so the pesto adheres better.  When draining the pasta, reserve 4 tbsp of cooking liquid. In a large bowl pour the pesto over the pasta, chick peas and tomatoes and mix well. Use reserved cooking liquid to loosen the mixture, if needed, and for an extra punch of flavour add the juice from the remaining half of the lemon.
  4. Before serving, top with toasted sesame seeds and more grated Romano, if desired.

Note: The stronger flavour of Romano cheese stands up to the tahini, but parmesan also works. I used fusilli but try any other pasta with grooves so that the pesto adheres. Also try with whole wheat or fibre enriched pasta.