The upside of exam season each spring, if there is one, is that it stokes my love of cooking. I usually spend the last few weeks of the semester living off very simple foods and leftovers, itching to get back in the kitchen and let the creative juices flow. It’s become a culinary ritual like any other—like waiting for certain produce to come into season, or waiting for the holidays to arrive so that one can bake a favorite pie or sheet of cookies.
In the meantime, I do my best to whip up at least a few recipes while I’m navigating finals season, if only to blow off steam. This curried tahini pasta salad is so, so easy to prepare, which made it ideal for this past weekend. The leftovers keep well, which means it’s tiding me over for a couple of days. And it’s delicious and great for sharing, which means you can bring it to whatever Memorial Day or summery gatherings you’ve got in store.
The pasta here is a tender, light gluten free Italian fusilli from Nuts.com, which I was delighted to sample. While I’m not gluten free myself, I do plenty of cooking for private clients and for friends who are. I’m always hunting for new and noteworthy GF products, and pasta has been a tricky one: a lot of clients have told me that they’re less than excited about some of the brands they’ve tried.
This fusilli is a corn and rice blend, and it’s one of the best I’ve sampled. The downside of a lot of GF pastas is gummy or sticky texture; this one holds its shape perfectly and stays light through cooking. I’d easily have mistaken it for regular pasta had I not known that it was gluten-free, and I’d imagine that others would feel the same. It also has a mild, neutral flavor, very similar to traditional pasta.
I always love checking out what the folks at Nuts.com have on offer and supporting their awesome, family-owned business. They do a wonderful job of supplying ultra fresh nuts, dried fruit, grains, legumes, condiments, and spices with lightening-fast shipping and super friendly service. In this recipe, I relied not only on the new, gluten-free pasta, but also on the company’s turmeric and curry, both of which are staple spices in my kitchen.
Curried Tahini Pasta Salad
For the pasta salad:
- 1 lb pasta of choice I use Nuts.com gluten-free fusilli
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 cups green peas fresh or defrosted
- 1 cup chopped green beans
- 1 cup chopped fresh or roasted red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley or a mixture
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
- Optional mix-ins: chickpeas black beans, sliced almonds, golden raisins
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup heaping tahini
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
- 2-3 teaspoons curry powder to taste; adjust based on flavor preference and how spicy your curry powder is
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 clove garlic finely minced or grated
- Bring a pot of well salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is ready, drain it and rinse it under cold, running water.
- While the pasta cooks, bring another pot of water to boil and fit it with a steamer attachment. Steam the broccoli, peas, and cut green beans till the broccoli is tender but still has some crunch (about 5-7 minutes).
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients. The mixture should be slightly thicker than a regular salad dressing, but if it's very thick, add water by the tablespoon until it's easy to stir.
- When the pasta is ready, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the peas, green beans, broccoli, pepper, cilantro or parsley, and chopped green onion tops, along with any other mix-ins you like. Add the tahini dressing and mix everything really well. Then taste the pasta and add salt, black pepper, and extra lime juice or vinegar as desired. Serve.
I love how turmeric adds bright golden color to this already vibrant dish (and I always love sneaking turmeric and black pepper into recipes for the anti-inflammatory properties!). I encourage you to adjust the curry as needed; if you love curry or want to use a hot curry powder, go for it. If you’re like me and prefer a milder flavor, use a mild curry and stick to the 2-3 teaspoons specified. Of course, you can try using different vegetables here, like carrots or zucchini or eggplant. The dish will come together particularly quickly if you use a frozen veggie blend, in which case you can just eyeball the quantities (about 5 cups of veggies is good).
I’m eager to spend lots of quality time here on the blog this summer, sharing my food. I’ll be taking a full summer course load, but my experience has been that in spite of the compressed schedule, summer classes are a little more chill than their academic year counterparts. So, here’s to a lot more food in this space very soon. For now, enjoy the colorful salad, and see you this weekend for the customary roundup!
This post is sponsored by Nuts.com. All opinions are my own, and I love this family-owned and friendly business! Thanks for your support.