Do you ever have one of those great moments that you wish you could somehow telepathically send to your past self? As a way of saying ‘don’t worry, things may be weird right now, but everything will turn out!’ I think about this weirdly a lot – wishing I could give my high school self in particular a little pep talk on occasion.
(If I could do that I would also tell myself to step away from the blow dyer and get into YouTube hair tutorials…)
I had one such moment on Sunday afternoon. It was a rainy/misty/generally grey day and Pieter and I were comfy on the couch watching an Annabel Langbein, the Free Range Cook marathon on 24 Kitchen – i.e. one of the most soothing and comforting cooking shows probably ever. I was cozy as could be in a cocoon of blankets and already feeling happy as a clam… And then Porgy hopped up onto the couch and curled up against me and started to purr, and being the total giant sap that I am I welled up.
I’ve watched countless hours of cooking shows in my life – in high school and university I watched Rachael Ray’s 30-minute meals the way others watch sports, and managed to see every episode of Everyday Italian and The Barefoot Contessa at least once – but I guess in more recent years I’ve slowly replaced those simple instructional-style shows for more dynamic, competition-based programs. So sitting in my cocoon of blankets and simply watching Annabel cook brought me straight back to years past, watching Food Network first in my family home as a perhaps slightly lonely teenager; then in the first-ever house I rented with my friends as I reluctantly learned to be ‘independent’; and then two years later with those same friends but in a different apartment, where Pieter and I first started dating and later where I Skyped him countless times when he was back in NL, with so many big question marks hovering above our heads.
I guess I wouldn’t want to spoil the next chapter to myself, but still – sometimes I think we all could use a little encouragement!
So. That’s my hefty, pretty much totally unrelated introduction to these pumpkin tahini shells. I think my line of reasoning is this: like that moment on the couch with Annabel, Pieter & Porgy, these shells are simple but delightful.
If you have puréed pumpkin on hand, this comes together in about 15 minutes flat, and it’s so creamy and comforting and indulgent and just delicious. If you don’t have any but you’re interested, it’s super easy. I simply cut the stem off the pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half vertically, remove the seeds and stringy bits, and then cut the flesh into cubes. Then I boil until tender (about 15-20 minutes), drain, and voilà! Or, Alexa over at Fooduzzi has a great tutorial using the oven, which doesn’t require you to remove the skin at all.
I’ve topped this dish with pine nuts and pecorino here, but it’s also quite delicious on its own, or topped with crumbled feta. If you’re skeptical about putting tahini in your pasta, don’t be! It gives the pumpkin a really savoury flavour and basically just acts as a creamy/cheese-like component.
Also, fun fact: the first time I made this sauce, I was actually trying to make pumpkin hummus – but when I was ready to eat I realized the carrots I’d wanted to dip into it were mouldy. What was a girl to do?! Throw some carbs into it, naturally!
You could also make this with cubed cooked pumpkin - simply boil the pumpkin for about 15-20 minutes or until tender, and then use in the exact same way as the purée.