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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 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.