Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad Recipe

An off-beat pasta salad made with stuffed pasta, seasonal vegetables, and a spice-forward, golden sesame yogurt sauce.

Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad

Hi everyone, it's going to be a quick post today. I wanted to share this pasta salad with you. It's the sort of off-beat thing I'd argue is worth a minute or two of your time. It made a stand-up lunch - filling, plenty of vegetables, and so on. Also, the flavors in the turmeric-tinted sauce are brilliantly unexpected - garlic, tahini, yogurt, cumin, cayenne, and coriander. Sealing the deal? The fact that you can prep everything a day or two ahead of time, making it easy to throw the whole thing together on whatever timeline you fancy. This quirky combination of ingredients is one of the reasons I still love cooking and finding inspiration from other cooks - their cookbooks, websites, articles.

Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad Recipe

In this case I have Peter Berley to thank. I pulled his book from the shelf and tweaked one of the pasta salads ever so slightly. In this version you toss stuffed pasta and a medley of in-season vegetables with the (previously mentioned) spiced sesame yogurt sauce. It's oh so perfect for summer. One of those all-in-one meals that work beautifully with all the brightly colored vegetables available this time of year. Serve it at room temperature, or just slightly chilled. Too cold, and textures change, pasta hardens, and the flavors shut down.

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Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad

I used a ricotta-stuffed pasta here, but you can substitute if you like. Just try to stick with a pasta that will go along with the spices in the sauce. You can make the sauce a day or two ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables and pasta head of time as well. Just keep the pasta separate and toss with a bit of oil before storing in the refrigerator. Combine all the components just before serving. You can use raw tomatoes here, although I prefer roasted - like the ones in the back of Super Natural Every Day.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup / 120 ml warm water
1/2 cup / 120 ml tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup / 120 ml plain or Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
fine grain sea salt

a big handful of broccoli florets
a big handful of cauliflower florets
a big handful of green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch segments
1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g stuffed pasta (ravioli, etc)
a big handful/scoop of cherry tomatoes, raw or roasted
a small handful torn basil and/or cilantro

Get a big pot of water started - you are going to want to bring it to a boil.

While the water is heating, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir well, and saute for just 15-30 seconds, or until the spices are toasted and fragrant. Transfer this mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the water, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Taste and adjust to your liking - you most likely will need a bit more salt. Set aside.

Salt the pot of water generously, and boil the broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans. Boil just 30 seconds, and quickly fish out with a slotted spoon. Run the vegetables under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, then drain and run under cold water. Really try to shake off any extra water, then add to the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, and toss gently. You can toss with half of the sauce at this point, or serve the salad with dollops of the sauce on top - to be tossed at the table. It's prettier this way. Sprinkle with the basil/cilantro (and basil flowers if you have them) and serve. Serve the extra sauce on the side - any leftover makes a good dip later in the week.

Adapted from the Pasta Salad with Tangy Sesame-Yogurt Sauce in Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

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I was frantically pacing the kitchen today, desperate to figure out a nice meal for the evening that would not be too harsh with the hot weather we are going through and this dish seems to fit the bill!


just made this for lunch but skipped the tumeric, because we didn't have any, and that seems to have thrown the flavor off. :( can you suggest another substitution/convince me that it really is worth another trip to the spice aisle?


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Heidi, this was so good. The sauce is exotic, must be the turmeric/tahini combination. I was out of yogurt so I used homemade, plain kefir. That may have made the sauce a tad thinner, but it tightened-up when refrigerated. It was a perfect consistency for us. I love this salad. Thank you. - kathy


Really interesting blog, keep up the good work!

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Excellent recipe. I made this last Friday night as a light pre-movie supper for me and my husband, and my we both loved it. The sauce was delicious and mysterious, and entirely unlike any other sauce I've ever had. We are vegan, so I replaced the dairy yogurt with plain vegan soy yogurt. The sauce did turn out a bit thin, so my recommendation to those using soy yogurt would be to add the water little by little until you reach the deisred consistency. Can't wait to have this again tonight!


A bottle of turmeric has been winning my latest kitchen staredown. I'm thinking this recipe will tip the scales in my favor. Thanks!


I write cookbooks, such as Gold Rush Grub, The Pioneer Village Cookbook, etc. Tried your Easy Little Bread recipe last week. Lived up to all the positive comments I saw. This salad looks yummy. Cheers!

Ann Chandonnet

I tried this dish and it was excellent. It was a nice change.


I made this for myself and my hubby last night. Because the sauce had 'new' things in it for him, he originally wrinkled his nose. That is, until he tasted it. Then he started making 'yum' sounds, so I knew this meal was a hit. And, it kept both of us full for a really long time! And that is especially rare for my hubby!


I made this last night - the only change was using fresh lime juice - and my family loved it. Thanks so much for sharing.


Pretty good idea to use stuffed ravioli in a salad, it never came to my mind. Sounds a lot better than just simple farfalle or penne and adds a nice surprise with its filling. The spicy tahini sauce sounds great too.


An interesting combination, that I would have never thought of! Can't wait to try it out.


I love dishes like this that let you introduce new ingredients and flavors in a "safe" environment such as pasta. My kids will try just about anything if it's attached to pasta.


I made this for a staff picnic last week. It was Superb!


This looks delicious but I am dairy-free, so has anyone tried this with blended silken tofu or soy yogurt instead of dairy yogurt? I also saw someone suggest maybe coconut milk. Any ideas or suggestions? If I give it a try vegan, I'll post how it goes!


Lovely recipe - thanks Heidi. I didn't have stuffed pasta so I used your recipe for pan fried gnocchi. Will definitely make again!


Gorgeous! I can't wait to try this. Love the sound of the flavour combo!

Kitchen Vignettes



Making this now and looking forward to it. One thing... cayenne in the directions but not the ingredient list... ?


What did I do wrong?????I was so excited about making this and it tasted terrible! Looked nice, but the sauce had no flavor!


Absolutely Sensational!!! Yummmm...


we had this sauce over (cold, sliced) roasted beets and served with a mix of greens. it was pretty much perfection for an August lunch. thank you!


This dish looks absolutely delicious. I may try with my favorite Greek Yogurt to see what happens to the texture.... Thanks for the tip!


This is a gorgeous dish! My sister just turned vegetarian and this dish is perfect for her.

Laura Rowett

My friend just sent me the link for your site. How fabulous everything looks - I am starting with this beautiful salad for lunch. Then making the simple bread for the kids lunchbox tomorrow. Yum...looking forward to following you. x HS: Welcome to the site :)


That looks so delicious! I love how you used yogurt instead of mayo or any other creamy dressing you typically find in a pasta salad.


I made your basic chocolate cake today -- many people in the comments asked about using whole milk, so I am reporting back to say it worked just fine, one to one. The cake was rich and chocolaty, very dense, quite moist.


Yes! Love this. I actually just started making a strange riff on Annie's Goddess Dressing, when I got to my last drops - I started mixing it with heaping spoons of yogurt and extra spices and vinegar, then pouring it over green salads or bean salads or anything else I could think of. This is so validating, as Goddess Dressing has tahini in it. I'm not so crazy after all!


Looks good, I will try it.. Thank you for the recipe!


What a beautiful dish, Heidi! I feel in love with stuffed pasta salads after trying a recipe of yours that included caramelized onions, wilted greens, hazelnuts, and lemon zest. That recipe opened my eyes to the possibility of healthy and veggie-centric pasta salads! I can't wait to try this one :)


I made this last night - what a hit. I didn't have cauliflower in the fridge, so I substituted summer squash and added in some fresh peas along with the green beans, broccoli and tomatoes. Totally delicious. Thanks for the awesomeness!


Wow, what a unique recipe. That first photo is just lovely. The soft pop of purple is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing another masterpiece!


I love Peter Berley! I don't have The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, but I do have The Flexetarian Kitchen and love it immensely. It's one of the cooksbooks that I recommend to everybody because everything I've made from it is fantastic! Glad to see him getting some love!

Tanvi @ The Hathi Cooks

Hi! I've just found your web site! I love natural healthy cooking! Great recipes! And I just put your books on my Amazon's wish list! ;) best regards from Italy Irma


Hi! I've been looking for healthy dishes that include vegies since I need to get back in shape. This recipes looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.


I made the sauce from this recipe last night with some leftover cooked WW tube pasta, threw in steamed broccoli and fried tofu. Kale chips on the side. All members of the family enjoyed it.


Just made this --- amazing!!!!! I just used whole wheat penne and it was great. Unfortunately the cherry tomatoes have yet to ripen here in Oregon, I cut up some "spring tomatoes" LOVE the idea for sweet potato fries dipping sauce.


this i can't say no to!

lidia@ sugarslut

What a pretty lunch! I love using basil flowers. They need to be pinched anyway, so why not use them. I've never seen purple ones though, so pretty! What type of basil do you have? HS: Hi Stephanie - I think it is African Blue Basil.


That looks delicious!! A friend of mine actually made a similar sauce (sans garlic) and served it over fresh mango slices as a dessert, back when mangoes were more in-season. Quite tasty :)


I have a giant jar of tahini and may have to try out this sauce. I just love the flavor it brings to any dish or sauce. ...and this lovely dish takes only 20 minutes... Yes please !

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)

Looks perfect, i love the colors of this dish!That salad is beautiful! Bye

Jeane Arneau

Such a delicious looking dish, gorgeous photos as well. Will try it this weekend with my partner. thanks for sharing! ;-)

trina @ best salad recipes

Made this recipe this morning with the mini raviolis from Trader Joe's and summer squash instead of the cauliflower (didn't have any). SO yummy! Trying recipes like this on a whim is one reason I always keep tahini in the house! :) Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes, Heidi!! :)


I’ve just made this dressing as it looked so scrummy in Heidis photo, but for me it turned out runny and thin. I’m wondering if the water’s meant to be in there... Anyone else had that happen? Any thoughts?


Hi Heidi (or Merhaba, as we say in Turkish), I was delighted to see the use of tahini, yoghurt, cumin in your recipe, I can't wait to try. Turkish cuisine also makes use of these ingredients a lot, as well as lots of grains and olive oil, it is a vegetarian food heaven. I am on a culinary journey in Turkey, with fascinating sites and food to explore - I document them all at my blg I hope mine inspires you as yours constantly inspire me:) Afiyet Olsun (means in Turkish, "May you be happy and healthy with the food you eat".

Ozlem Warren

I love this combination. I'll be making the sauce and cooking pasta on Thursday evening to toss in the ice chest that is going with me to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest for a weekend of car camping and full moon photography. It will be something to look forward to while my toes freeze at 10,000 feet. Thanks a million for the great inspiration - today and always!


Perfect stay-at-home lunch recipe, Heidi. I've been doing a simple pasta salad myself lately with tomatoes, basil, crumbled feta, and a simple dressing of lemon and olive oil. But this one's up next on my list. Thank you.

Megan Gordon

I made this tonight for my houseguest and myself, and it was fantastic!!!! I used fresh cherry tomatoes and added some mushrooms. I also added more cayenne, just for a bit of a kick. This is definitely right up there with the Harissa Ravioli from your cookbook, which is my absolute favorite dish. Thanks!


This looks delicious! I would never think to combine the flavours in the sauce with ravioli, so I'm definitely going to try this soon! I just bough super natural every day - it's such a beautiful book , and I can't wait to try some of the dishes. I love the photography and styling - especially the bright yellow pages at the beginning of each section.


I love your offbeat dishes. And I love that actual serving dish, too. It's gorgeous.



A Teenage Gourmet

This looks amazing! Though I have to admit, I've never considered putting tahini in pasta before. But somehow it does sound delicious.

Maria @ Orchard Bloom

Looks lovely, I think I'll have to make this salad tomorrow! The colors are brilliant!


veggies + anything tehini = success in my book :) What a beautiful dish - perfect and cooling for the summer.

Nirvana@ Nourished Living

This is absolutely stunning! I love pasta salad recipes, but they tend to be heavy and too full of fat for me...


I am so into the yogurt idea, and tahini always gets my attention... lovely!

Rocky Mountain Woman

This pasta salad is delicious and beautiful. Thanks Heidi :)

stephanie villasenor

I was so excited about this recipe that I whipped it up for lunch today. The sauce is truly outstanding-- the spices meld together beautifully. I love that it has tahini, but is lighter than most tahini sauces that I've tried. I scooped up some of the remaining sauce with toasted lavash. Thanks for another winning recipe!


The sauce on this is gorgeous! What a beautiful color. Lots of flavor here!!!

The Elegant Eggplant

I agree. It's so fun to find interesting, quirky ideas like this that also look simple and delicious. Thanks so much for passing it along! I've gotta try it this week!

Eva / Sycamore Street Press

Thank you honey. I just ha[[ened to have all these spices on hand. My hubby won't eat the broccoli or cauliflower, but I know he will like it with the green beans and maybe some cooked baby peas. Sounds good to me. Mediterranean??


Wow! This looks delicious. I have friends coming to stay this weekend so this may just feature on the menu!

emma. our kitchen

Wow! This looks delicious. I have friends coming to stay this weekend so this may just feature on the menu!

emma. our kitchen

Yum. Enough said. Love it!

Amie Valpone

This dish looks so tempting!


i love the combo of tahini and yogurt with those rich spices. seems like the perfect taste sensations. aloha, andrea

andrea devon

OMG. I'm so excited about this recipe!
HS: Dana - I think you and I might live in the same hood. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for you.


Just gorgeous. Love the combo of fresh vegetables, and I can almost taste that sauce now!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

What a great way to shake up pasta salad with some unexpected flavors!

la domestique

Cumin, tahini, coriander and turmeric, too; this salad sounds like a spicy and flavorful dream.

katy from DiningwithDusty

Love the gorgeous colors in this salad! Sounds delish.

Jen @ keepitsimplefoods

I went to school with Peter Berley's daughter. I love all of his cookbooks, and your recipes too!


i'm always wondering what to do with my giant jars of tahini (other than make hummus) thanks!!!

lynn @ the actor's diet

I wonder if I could use Labneh (Lebanese yogurt cheese) in place of the yogurt. It's readily available in Detroit and it's delicious. I bet it would work, except that it may need to be thinned out somehow.


What an amazing, interesting take on pasta salad! I love Indian spices and flavors, but never in my life have I combined them with stuffed pasta. This is so cool! It's like bridging two worlds with one recipe :) Thanks for the inspiration!

Anjali Shah

What a unique and beautiful spin on pasta salad! It looks like summer's last hurrah. [sigh]

Zestful Lou

This looks great! Last night I made the "Little Quinoa Patties" from your Super Natural Every Day cookbook...delish! It's my new favorite recipe and a great way to use up leftover quinoa and veggies. I added green peppers, since I had them on hand. I am having them for lunch today, too...maybe wrapped in lavash with a little hummus, sort of like a falafel, although they are great all alone.


Gosh, it is so pretty. I like the tiny purple (borage?) flowers.
HS: Actually, they're just little basil flowers I snipped :)

Denise | Chez Danisse

This is such a nice departure from other pasta salads. And I love anything turmeric-colored. Excited to try something like this.


A complete healthy dinner (or lunch) on one plate and only uses a few kitchen tools. And if you are lucky there will be left overs!

Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

This looks like a great fast & easy weeknight meal--kid friendly too!

Gretchen @

Oh Heidi, I just fell out of my chair, that looks so good! Woman!!

Bev Weidner

I'm thinking...maybe coconut milk instead of yogurt? Great photo. Got me thinking about lunch already...

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

I'm sold. Just bought some raviolis and can't wait to try this. Combination of flavors sounds really interesting and like all the fresh veggies to boot!


Oh my, the dressing sounds amazing! Tahini in dressings is just delicious. I've never tried it in combination with yoghurt before, so thanks for the idea. :)


Those are indeed some intriguing spice combinations. It looks delicious with that ravioli and creamy dressing. Someday I think I am going to do nothing but read cookbooks on my vacation!

Snippets of Thyme

this is SUCH a gorgeous dish!

Heather (Heather's Dish)

What a bold and beautiful pasta salad. Love the colours and flavours going on here and the make ahead element. Lovely!

Kelly at Inspired Edibles

Yum! The food styling is beautiful as always :)

Alissa @ Not Just Apples

Oh I've never seen anything like this - what a beautiful and delicious dish!

Simply Life

Hey, I just made this for the first time last week too after looking at it in Peter Berley's book for ages. I have to say it is a really great recipe! Slightly different and really easy and quick too. The quinoa salad from that book is also another favourite. For anyone that doesn't have that book - get it - you won't regret it!

adam and theresa

This sounds splendid! Love the combinations of flavours.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

I love the sound of that sauce. I never thought of combining tahini and yoghurt. I'll have to try it soon!

Sharon Ní Chonchúir

I really like that kind of foods & i'm interested in how to cook like this kind of foods

Cathrine Thu

This looks like another hit! I love it when you post recipes that are super easy but well thought out. It does sound like a brilliant lunch recipe! Thanks!


I just recently made the switch to vegetarian and your site always gives me ideas for what my next meal will be. Recently orderes your books so i can cook more natural whole meals in my home! this looks good


Such an interesting combination of flavours and not one that I would have thought of working with pasta but this looks delicious!


That salad is beautiful! I love that you used ravioli--my favorite. The sauce sounds incredible.

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

Looove the colors of this dish! That sauce looks tasty!


I'll try this with a Greek yogurt. The spices sound intoxicating with this salad! Thanks for sharing.


The pasta salad itself looks great, but I'm all about that sauce. I'm thinking it would be good as a dip for sweet potato fries...


Looks perfect. Always find inspiration for new flavor combinations and flavorful, simple pure dishes on your site. I think I'm going to make a batch to keep ahead-of-time tomorrow. Thanks!


Thank you. I am slowly making the transition to veg and looking for new recipes. This looks so great can't wait to try it!


Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous!!!!


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