Hetty McKinnon's Herbed Tahini Pasta | Exploration Lifestyle

Hetty McKinnon's Herbed Tahini Pasta

At the heart of every family, there is a complex story of food. The family represents a constantly evolving edible history, where nostalgia interlaces with tradition, identity and culture, and where small moments grow into lasting memories. Along with the food that we eat around the table, there are also the shared experiences – the conversations, reflections, heated discussions and informal exchanges that add a unique flavour to our food.

Family food isn’t fancy or complex. Its roots are humble, stemming from recipes passed on through generations, or food rituals born from daily cooking. At home, even the simplest dish can hold deep significance.

My love for tahini originates in an unlikely place – yum cha. Tahini is ‘Asian sesame’ sauce by another name, a condiment that is widely used in Chinese cooking. At yum cha, sesame sauce is drizzled over pan-fried rice cakes to dramatic effect. This cross-cultural culinary utilisation symbolises the versatility of tahini. This is a show-stopping pasta dish, creamy and flavourful, that will soon be on high rotation around your dinner table.



500g pasta (spaghetti/linguine/orecchiette/rigatoni)

150g sugar snap or snow peas, trimmed

150g peas (fresh or frozen)

A handful of mint leaves (or basil if prefered)

Juice of ½ lemon

Extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper


For the Herbed Tahini Sauce:

135g (1/2 cup) tahini

Juice of ½ lemon

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 tablespoons roughly chopped mint leaves

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper



Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta, stirring. Cook according to the packet instructions until al dente, adding the sugar snaps or snow peas and the peas for the last 30 seconds and cooking until the veggies are crisp and bright green.

Reserve 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the pasta cooking water, the drain the pasta and veggies.

For the herbed tahini sauce, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, mint and 125 ml (1/2 cup) of water to a blender or small food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.

If the sauce is too thick, add more water to thin it down. Add the olive oil and stir to continue. Season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Add the herbed tahini to the pasta and veggies along with a splash or two the reserved pasta cooking water and toss together to combine.

Transfer to individual serving plates and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Scatter with a few mint leaves, add a squeeze of lemon juice and finish with a final drizzle of olive oil.


‘Family‘ by Hetty McKinnon, with photography by Luisa Brimble and published by Pan Macmillan Australia, is available in paperback (RRP$39.95) or e-book (RRP$17.95) online or from all good bookshops throughout Australia.

Herbed Tahini Pasta from Family. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The latest cook book for kitchen guru Hetty McKinnon. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Enjoying the ritual and comfort of a shared family meal. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Please pass the pasta! Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Hetty and family share a delicious and simple meal. Photo – Luisa Brimble.


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