How to make a spicy Mexican pumpkin seed sauce

spicy pumpkin seed pesto by Thomasina Miers

Thomasina Miers is passionate about all things Mexican and a devoted chilli lover, so who better to ask for a spicy Mexcian-inspired dish than this famous Intrepid Foodie who helped design Intrepid’s Real Food Adventure Mexico

“Most people think about chillies in terms of heat and their capacity to blow one’s head off. I think about how they can delicately pep up a pile of silky aubergines, how tobacco-flavoured chillies can add deep mysterious tones to molten chocolate, how smoky chillies can add body to slow cooked stews and how smoked, sweet peppers can add a note of earthiness to eggs, grilled flatbreads and sautéed greens,” Tommi explains.

“Pumpkin seeds are an important source of protein and good essential oils, and have long been a staple of Mexican cuisine: the Aztecs and Mixtecs would grind them down with spices and chillie to make rich, exotic sauces. This is my simple version; it works beautifully with pasta and is also delicious with grilled chicken or poussin.”

Linguine with a deliciously spicy pumpkin seed pesto

Ingredients, to serve 4 people:
1 large, very ripe tomato
3 garlic cloves, skins on
1 habanero/Scotch bonnet chilli
75g pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
a large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 small shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
70g pecorino, freshly grated, plus more for serving
Juice and zest of ½ lime
Juice and zest of ½ orange
120ml extra virgin olive oil
300g linguine

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high heat. Place the whole tomato, garlic cloves and chilli in the pan and dry roast until they are blackened, blistered and soft. The tomato will take a little longer, so fish out the garlic and chilli first as they are cooked (about 5–10 minutes). Slip the skins off the garlic cloves and cut the chilli in half, removing and discarding the stem, seeds and inner veins.

Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in another dry frying pan until they become toasted all over and start to ‘pop’. Blitz the pumpkin seeds with the herbs and salt in a food processor and then add the tomato, garlic, chilli, shallot and pecorino and blitz again. Finally add the citrus juices, zest and olive oil and blitz to a pesto.

Cook pasta until al dente in plenty of well-salted boiling water and drain, reserving the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the pesto, followed by 2–3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water. Allow to sit for a minute or two and add a few tablespoons more water if needed to loosen the pasta. This stops it from becoming dry when you get it to the table. Serve with lots of freshly grated pecorino and, if you like, a green salad.

Chilli Notes by Thomasina MiersChilli Notes; Recipes to warm the heart (not burn the tongue)
This is the exciting new cookbook from Thomasina Miers. Inspired by her travels, Tommi has brought together delicious recipes from a diverse mix of cultures to create a very unique chilli recipe book.

From dishes that you can pull together on a weekday night to weekend spreads for family or friends, Tommi shows how to bring an extra dimension to all your home cooking, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.

© Thomasina Miers. Recipe taken from Chilli Notes by Thomasina Miers (Hodder & Stoughton £25).

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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