Arabic Pasta. Ever heard of it? Now you have! It's your perfect solution to a lighter "white sauce" pasta, because the sauce is a yogurt, tahini and garlic sauce. It's layered with ground beef spiced with warm middle eastern spices, and it's just so good. The perfect weeknight meal!
Table of contents
What is Arabic Pasta?
So a lot of Arabs have grown up eating pasta with yogurt sauce. Not just plain yogurt, but mixed with some garlic, sometimes tahini, and sometimes I add a lot of herbs like mint or parsley. I only found out about this amazingness in recent years through my friends, and since then, I always make it. It's the best quick pasta sauce - it takes 5 minutes.
But I recently saw one of my good friends Dena make this "yogurt pasta" but add beef to it, and I was so intrigued. My husband loves ground beef and I knew he'd love this dish. I'm so glad I tried it because it actually tasted a bit like Mantu/Manti or Shish Barak. It's kind of like a deconstructed version of Manti. Very similar flavors, but a fraction of the time! I highly suggest you try this Arabic pasta because... it's just too good.
By the way, a lot of people may also call this Bechamel Pasta Bake "Arabic pasta" but we actually call that "Macarona Bechamel".
Ingredients you'll need for this recipe
You'll need your basic pasta ingredients, but with some middle eastern additions. For the pasta, I used a beautiful mafalda corta but you can use any pasta you like. For the meat mixture, you need the ground beef (I use extra lean), onions and spices. If you can't find allspice, you can replace it with "seven spice" which is an Arabic spice mixture.
How to make Arabic Pasta, step by step
This recipe comes together so quickly - you'll have dinner ready in 30 minutes.
- First, start by getting the pasta boiling in salted water and cooking until al dente
- Then work on the ground beef mixture by cooking the onions until softened, then adding the beef and breaking it up, browning it until all the liquid has evaporated
- Add all the spices, mix well and taste and adjust
- Meanwhile, the pasta should be done cooking. Drain it and drizzle it with olive oil for some extra flavour, and set aside
- To make the sauce, mix together the yogurt, tahini, garlic, mint, and lemon juice using a fork until smooth. Don't be tempted to use a blender here, it will make the sauce turn into liquid
- You can adjust the amount of garlic to your taste, but keep in mind that raw garlic is quite strong
- Finally, prepare the pine nuts by toasting them for a few minutes on a pan until lightly golden - I use a bit of olive oil to toast them in
- Assemble the dish by adding a layer of pasta, then the meat mixture, then the sauce, and finally the pine nuts and fresh herbs of your choice
FAQs and storage instructions
Yes! You can prepare the meat mixture ahead of time and store it in the fridge. The day you want to make it, just boil the pasta, mix together the sauce, heat the meat and assemble.
If you have leftovers, either mix everything together or keep it layered in an air tight container and store it in the fridge. You can include the sauce too, you don't need to store it separately. To serve, re-heat in the microwave or stove top.
Absolutely! You can add things like spinach, mushrooms, peas, carrots, peppers, etc. Do this by cooking the vegetables you want to add with the meat and onions and then assembling everything the same way.
No! If you put the yogurt in a blender, it will liquify and you'll end up with a liquid. Always mix it together using a fork.
Other pasta recipes you'll love
Arabic Pasta with Yogurt Sauce
For the pasta:
- 400 g pasta I used mafalda corta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the meat:
- 700 g extra lean ground beef
- 2 cups chopped white onions roughly 2 medium onions
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons allspice you can also use 7 spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 tablespoons tomato sauce
For the sauce:
- 2.5 cups plain full fat yogurt 750g
- ½ cup tahini paste
- 1 large garlic clove crushed
- 4 teaspoons dried mint more per preference
- ½ teaspoon salt
- A squeeze of lemon
- Toasted pine nuts
- Fresh herbs
- Start by boiling the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and then drizzle with olive oil and set aside
- Meanwhile, make the meat mixture by firstly cooking the chopped onion with the olive oil on medium high heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes
- Add the ground beef and break it up into small pieces and cook it for 5-7 minutes, until browned and most of the moisture has dried up
- Add all the spices and the tomato sauce and mix well. Taste and adjust
- To make the yogurt sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients together using a fork (do not use a blender)
- Toast the pine nuts with half a tablespoon of olive oil on a pan until lightly golden
- To serve, layer the pasta, add the ground beef mixture, then the yogurt sauce, and top with the pine nuts and any fresh herbs you like. Enjoy!