Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles

It’s officially Summer; I can’t deny it any longer. I’m eating way more than my fair share of tofu sandwiches, and even the heat emanating from the toaster can be too much for me sometimes. If you can find some part of the day to boil noodles (in the cool of the morning, or before bed), you can make them ahead of time and be done with the only cooking required for this dish.

Earlier this year I was reading Coconut and Lime, and where Rachel had the brilliant idea of making a peanut sauce without peanuts. Her stand-in was sesame paste, and she created a fabulous sesame noodle dish that I couldn’t get out of my head. I absolutely had to make a sauce based on sesame paste. My recipe is different than hers (though hers is mighty tasty, so if you don’t care for my version give hers a try), but she was definitely the inspiration for this sauce that has quickly become a staple in my house.

Notes on Tahini and Sesame Paste
I use tahini in this recipe, which is a paste commonly used in the Middle East made from hulled sesame seeds.  The seeds can be raw or roasted, and the flavor will vary depending on which one you choose.  My favorite tahini is Arrowhead Mills Organic Sesame Tahini, which is unroasted.  It’s not too bitter, and it stays smooth and easy to use even after refrigeration.  Roasted tahini will also work great in this recipe, but the flavor will be noticeably different

Sesame paste, on the other hand, is an Asian ingredient that turns the whole sesame seed, including the hulls, into a paste.  It’s stronger than tahini, so you usually need much less in your recipes, and using too much can cause the dish to be more bitter than you expected.  While you can find tahini at any supermarket now (look near the peanut butter), Asian sesame paste still seems religated to specialty markets.

Tahini Noodle Prep

This dish is largely raw, which cuts down on a lot of the work, and prevents your summer kitchen from becoming a sauna. I’ve found that if you cut your veggies small enough and have a great sauce, you’ll be surprised at what you can serve raw. If you like, you can lightly steam the broccoli, but it really is tasty simply cut into tiny florets. If you follow a raw food diet, feel free to substitute the cooked wheat noodles with cucumber or zucchini noodles, or whatever raw noodles make you the happiest. Pretty much anything will work as the base of this dish.

The other benefit this dish is that it keeps really well, so I like to make a big batch to keep in the fridge for lunches, snacks, or meals to go.

Oh! And one more thing! Have you tried Whole Foods’ whole wheat spaghetti yet?  It tastes exactly like regular spaghetti, only it’s better for you than the stripped down stuff.  If you’re looking to add more whole grains into your diet, this is a super easy–even unnoticeable–way to do it.  They are by far the best whole wheat noodles I’ve ever had.

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 lb  Whole Wheat Spaghetti, cooked, rinsed in cold water, drained
2 Carrots, peeled and shredded
1/4 Green Cabbage Head, shredded
1 Stalk Broccoli, florets only, cut very small
A Handful Fresh Mint, chopped, optional (cilantro or basil would be good, too)
Sesame Seeds and More Mint, for garnish

Tahini Sauce
1/4 Cup Tahini, see section above
2 Tbs Low Sodium Tamari, or nama shoyu, or regular soy sauce
3 Tbs Water
1 Tbs Sugar, or raw agave nectar
1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 tsp Chili Sauce or 1 Chopped Fresh Chili
1 tsp Dijon or Stone-ground Mustard
1 Pinch Salt, if needed
Lots of Fresh Black Pepper

Cook the noodles and rinse under cold water. Drain and set aside, coating lightly with oil if desired to prevent the noodles from sticking. These can be made well in advance.

Coring CabbageCut your cabbage into quarters, then use a large chef’s knife to remove the core from one of the quarters, as shown at left. Discard the core, and wrap up the other three quarters for later use.

If you have a food processor, use it to shred your carrots and your cabbage. Use the shredder blade that has many holes for the carrots, and the blade that has one single slit for the cabbage. A box grater will work just fine for the carrots and a knife for the cabbage if a food processor is not available.

Chop the broccoli into small florets, creating pieces no bigger than small grapes. Toss all the veggies together and add the pasta. Stir together the sauce, tasting to adjust if needed.

When you’re ready to serve, add the sauce to the noodles and veggies and toss with your hands, coating everything evenly. Add chopped mint at the last moment, if using. Garnish with more mint and sesame seeds.

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles

This will easily keep for a couple days. If you’re a big fan of sauce, you may want to double the recipe. This recipe makes just enough to coat the noodles.  Extra sauce will really come in handy after the completed dish has been refrigerated for a bit; I find noodles really soak up sauces so it can be nice to have some extra on hand.

If you’ve tried tahini and disliked it, give it another chance. It’s kind of vile on its own, so balancing flavors is very important with this ingredient. If you want a little tahini flavor but can’t quite use the full 1/4 cup, consider adding some peanut butter in lieu of tahini. Personally, I find this a really refreshing change from the typical peanut sauces, and since it’s so easy to make, why not give it a shot?

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles


  1. Sophie

    Great idea! I’m intrigued by the idea of using the broccoli raw, though I guess you could stick it in with the spaghetti for its last minute of boiling if you wanted an easy way to take the edge of its crunch.

    I always forget that tahini is bitter compared with peanut butter and scoff a spoonful of it when I get the jar out of the fridge. Have thus learnt the hard way that some brands are more bitter than others! It’s definitely worth shopping around to find one that you like.

  2. Joanna

    I love sauces like this! I’ve never used mustard in my sesame noodle sauce though… will have to give it a try. (I tend to like mustard in everything so I’m sure it will be good!) Also thanks for the rec on Whole Foods whole wheat pasta — I keep trying different brands and I keep going back to regular refined pasta because I just can’t get used to the texture of whole wheat. Barilla Plus is the closest I’ve found but it’s not quite there. I’ll definitely look for the Whole Foods brand!

    Also, I started a food blog! It’s kind of lame so far but… it’s a work in progress.

  3. Maggie

    Wow, that looks delicious!
    Now I can’t wait for summer to roll around, and I HATE summer :D (i’m in Australia, so it’ll be a few months)

  4. Caitlin

    I made a version of this tonight with red peppers, sugar snap peas and peanut butter instead of the tahini. Noodles are so good in the summer!

  5. sue.agirlnamed

    This is totally awesome – I ended up using about half almond butter, because I ran out of tahini and didn’t have any PB lying around, and for veggies went with one Armenian cucumber, some mizuna, and pea tendrils, and one green onion. I love the mint! And the flavors! mmmmmmm. It was the perfect thing to whip up at home, quick and easy, and delicious. Keep up the excellent work! Also – I *think* you meant chili oil, not chili sauce. At least, I used chili oil… and it was awesome.

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  7. Jennifer

    Your photos are amazing! Thanks for the great recipe today and for the tip about Whole Foods pasta. I’m probably going to head up there today, so I’ll now be sure to pick some up!

  8. meghan

    oooh, i can’t wait to make this sauce.
    in texas it is definitely too hot to cook for the most part right now!
    this definitely sounds like a good alternative.

  9. Lee Cockrum

    Hi, this looks great, but I did have a question, did you use chili oil, or chili sauce? And if you used chili sauce, what kind do you use? The only chili sauce I know of is I think heinz, which I think needs to be used up fairly quickly when opened.


    I use Chili Sauce, specifically Sriracha. Chili oil would probably be fine, though!

  10. ClaireDille

    I made this today and let it chill in the fridge for after my workout. It was definitely yummy after a nice hard run! I think I may add a little more sauce next time since I will be eating it for leftovers a lot. Thanks so much for a yummy new idea for tahini use.

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  12. kimmykokonut

    This looks beautiful! I’m making it tonight for dinner and will post a picture and link on my blog. Instead of cabbage, I added scallions, snap peas and sauteed zucchini. I didn’t have rice vinegar so used equal parts white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. It came out a little tangy, not sure how mellow the rice vinegar will make it. Thanks for sharing the recipe! It was easy and very little dishes to clean up!

  13. walterknitty

    I like this recipe and enjoy your blog quite a bit. I must admit this was my inspiration for dinner tonight but used soba noodles, zucchini, green beans, edamane, topped off with a curry peanut sauce, some cucumber and scallions. It is not 90 today in Oregon so was able to saute the veggies. I dont know how you feel about requests and I dont know if you have arleady posted this somewhere, but I’d like to see your interpretation of a curry peanut sauce.

  14. Erin

    This sounds really delicious, and your pictures are gorgeous! I like the possibilites of variations on this dish, especially all raw.

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  16. Amanda Lyle

    I made this for dinner last night and it was so delicious! I doubled the sauce because I knew there was going to be lots of leftovers, so I ended up adding in more veggies in the end. I was so excited about it that I had to try a little this morning when I was scooping out my lunch portion to take to work with me. I can’t wait to make this again and try some other veggies like scallions, cucumber, purple cabbage and snap beans. Thanks!

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  18. Vegetable Waffle

    I made this dish (tamari/ agave/ chili sauce/ basil version) for dinner last night, along with your delish tomato-basil sandwiches, and everyone loved it. The only thing I would change is the basil … I think cilantro might go better.

  19. LJ Haynes

    Another winner with me and my omnivore hubby. My regret was that I didn’t double the sauce, make that the whole dish. The two of us polished it off in one night. *Just lovely!*

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  21. Tara

    Tried this last weekend. It was great!!! I added diced red pepper for some extra color and took your suggestion to make extra sauce. Just had the leftovers today for lunch and the extra sauce was perfect. You’re right, the noodles soak up a good portion of it if they sit for a few days. I also used whole wheat fettucini instead of spaghetti. I’ll definitely make this one again. It was so easy and a perfect dish to bring to the beach for lunch! Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Liz

    I have this recipe multiple times a week b/c it makes so much dressing. One day I cut up all the veggies and make the sauce … add some brown rice both days (boil in a bag) and WOW!

  23. Monte Slick

    I really want to try this dish over the weekend. I have all the ingredients in my kitchen now. It looks easy. I’ve only been a vegan for about a month now, and my recipes were getting routine. I think this would be a kick start for me to venture out.

  24. monique

    I made this last night and boy was it delicious!
    I’m just learning how to cook and was put at ease that I had everything for the sauce already and just needed to get the pasta & veggies.
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe! I look forward to trying out more from here :)

  25. jane

    Just thought I’d share with you, there is an Asian custom/superstition that you should never stick your chopsticks into a bowl of rice or noodles. I don’t know the reason behind it though!

  26. Kathleen

    I was about to say the same as Jane. In Japan, it is considered very bad luck to leave your chopsticks stuck in the food like that because when rice is served to the dead, the chopsticks are stuck into the rice.
    Food looks yummy though.

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