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This yummy pasta recipe pairs spring veggies (asparagus) with a creamy tahini sauce—for a dish that's vegan, but still super-satisfying. 

"Gigli (aka campanelle) is one of my favorite cuts of short pasta. Za'atar can be purchased as a spice blend online. If you have a large collection of dried spices, make your own using my recipe blend." –Rach 

For more spring pasta ideas, check out her Spring Pasta with Peas, Asparagus and Prosciutto or this Lemon-Poppy Pasta Salad.


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 za'atar spice


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.

12-Inch Cast Iron Frying Pan

12-Inch Cast Iron Frying Pan

Rachael Ray

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.

Barilla Campanelle Pasta

Barilla Campanelle Pasta


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.