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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 chillies to make rich, exotic sauces. This is my simple version; it works beautifully with pasta.

+ Ingredients

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

+ Method

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 the 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.

Feeds 4

Photography by Tara Fisher.