Vegan Spring Pasta: Campanelle With Creamy Tahini Sauce Charred Asparagus + Za'atar
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Vegan Spring Pasta: Campanelle With Creamy Tahini Sauce Charred Asparagus + Za'atar

Ingredients

For the creamy tahini sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste or rose harissa or 1 fresh hot chili pepper, chopped

  • ⅔ to ¾ cup tahini (ground sesame sauce)

  • Salt and fine black or white pepper

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • About ¾ cup water

For the pasta:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut on the bias into large pieces

  • 1 bunch scallions or 4 spring onions, cut on the bias into large pieces

  • Non-aerosol olive oil spray

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • 1 pound gigli (aka campanelle), a lily-shaped short-cut pasta or other short pasta

  • 4 tablespoons

     

Preparation

Serves: 4

For the sauce, warm oil in a small skillet over medium heat and swirl garlic a minute or so, add harissa or fresh chili and combine, cool a bit. Place in food processor with tahini, season with salt and pepper, add juice of 1 lemon and turn on processor, then stream in water to form smooth sauce, transfer to a bowl.

Hold a spear of asparagus at both ends, bend and snap. The end is a measure for where to trim the bunch. Ends can be cooked in stock and softened to puree for soup.

Trims tough tops and roots of scallions or spring onions.

Heat a cast iron skillet or large nonstick skillet over medium-high to high heat with a spray of oil. Add the asparagus and scallions or spring onions, in 2 batches if necessary, and season with salt, brown 2 to 3 minutes, turn and cover 1 to 2 minutes more. Cook the cut lemon as well to char. Douse the cooked asparagus and spring onions with ½ the charred lemon.

Undercook pasta by 1 minute in salted boiling water, reserve ¾ cup boiling water and drain. Return to hot pot and combine with tahini sauce and add the hot water as needed to thin a bit to coat pasta with velvety sauce. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Add half the asparagus and onions and the remaining juice of ½ charred lemon. Transfer to serving bowl and top with remaining asparagus and scallions or spring onions and za'atar. 

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