Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Whipped Pumpkin Tahini with Scallops, Crispy Chickpeas And Za'atar - AKA Pumpkin Dip And Scallops

Another month, another recipe for our Facebook Lambs' Ears Cookbook Club.  In January, our book was More Fish More Veg by Tom Walton, an Aussie chef.  I felt like a fish out of water with this one, as the other members all seemed to love this book, but I am ... not a huge fan, I have to say.  

Are you allowed to say 'it's very masculine'?  What does that mean, you ask?  It has a mainly brown cover (yeah, I know), with recipes that I find - not amenable.  I don't know how to put this, but I was in the minority anyway.  I'm sure there are readers screaming and waving their fists at me now.  "What do you mean, it's masculine?  Food isn't of any gender! etc etc."  Sorry, I just find his recipes pernickety (but tasty).

tasty; heaps of flavours and textures

But I still made this one for dinner, and it was tasty and full of flavour.  So yes, try it and see for yourselves.  It's very gustacious!  Yes, this is a real word, though it probably doesn't mean what I think it means (as Inigo Montoya said to Vizzini in The Princess Bride!)

Serves 4-6:


1 can of chickpeas (400g./14 oz) 

1/3 cup (80 mL) EV olive oil - (divvied up into 1 Tbs and 2 Tbs and 1 Tbs)  see Notes

1/2 tsp curry powder

Sea salt and black pepper

1 butternut pumpkin/squash, cut in half lengthwise  see Notes

1 head garlic (10 cloves on average)

20g. (⅔ oz) pepitas with 1/4 tsp EV olive oil, sea salt and black pepper to taste  see Notes

1/4 cup (65g./2.4 oz) hulled tahini paste  see Notes

1 tsp ground cummin

12 scallops, off the shell (eat the roe - or not - if you have it)  see Notes

2 Tbs chilli oil

1 Tbs EV olive oil  -  yes really, another tablespoon :=)

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses (or use quince syrup or similar)

2 Tbs dill leaves, roughly chopped

2 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted

2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted

1 Tbs za'atar


Whack on your oven to 180C/350F to heat, and line two baking trays with baking paper

Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas on paper towel or a tea towel (let's be green where we can)

Give the chickpeas a toss with 1 Tbs of the EVoo, the curry powder and salt and pepper (to your taste - I used 1/2 tsp sea salt and 10 grinds of pepper) and throw them onto one of the trays

Toss the diced pumpkin in a mixing bowl, with 2 Tbs olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste (or brush the halves with oil)

Wrap the garlic in alfoil, and put it on the other baking tray

Toss the pepitas in the oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the tray with the pumpkin and garlic; check them after 10-15 minutes, and take them out when nicely toasted

Place the pumpkin on the tray with the garlic, and put both trays into the oven; bake them both for about 25-30 minutes, till the chickpeas are toasted, the pumpkin is tender (it may take a few minutes more than the chickpeas), and the garlic smells delightfully done!  If using a whole (halved) pumpkin, it may take up to 40 minutes to cook up

You can give the sesame seeds a quick toss in a small, dry frypan over a low, low heat while the baking is happening

Also, either bake the scallops tossed in 1 Tbs of the EV olive oil at 210C/410F for 10-15 minutes (obvs. once the other items are done), or fry them (in oil) for 20-30 seconds, flip them once and turn out of the pan

Let everything cool to room temp., and now tip the pumpkin sans skin (which you will have taken out of the skin if using whole pumpkin) into a food processor or blender along with the garlic you have squeezed out of their papery skins with your bare hands so you smell like a vampire's deepest fear :=)

In go the tahini and cummin; blend till smooth, adding a bit of water to thin if desired; check for seasoning at this point

Grab yourself a gorgeous serving platter, spoon on the pumpkin purée and drizzle with the chilli oil, EV olive oil and pomegranate molasses

With great glee and finesse, cast on the dill, sesame seeds, pepitas, za'atar, chickpeas and scallops

Serve with toasted naan bread or flatbread of your choice


Or take the easy route and buy a 750g./26 oz bag of peeled and cubed pumpkin, like I did!  In which case, you will need to buy some pepitas/pumpkin seeds as you won't have any from the actual pumpkin

Tom's recipe says to use 135 grams of tahini but my notes say to use half that!  If using whole pumpkin, you may need more tahini I'm thinking, than my amount

I grabbed a 300g./10.5 oz bag of frozen scallops (sans roe) from the supermarket

I only had quince syrup in my pantry so I used that - I guess you could use whatever thick, fruity, tangy syrup you have around

An Aussie tablespoon is 20 mL, rather than the U.S. 15 mL.  Weirdly, Tom tells the reader this in the very last sentence on the very last page of his book, in tiny, wee print!!

See what I mean!  This recipe has a fair bit of faffing around!  The average time-poor person ain't gonna have time for this fiddle-faddle - But still, it is a very flavourful dish, so on a calm weekend ...

into the oven at 180C/350F  (I baked them the day before)

gather those ingredients

getting ready to blitz

let's put it all together

and spread it over the platter

throw on the dill and syrup/molasses

add the seeds and scallops

and the chickpeas and za'atar

see what I mean? :=)  Brown! Hey I'm in the mirror ...

C. Sherry M.


  1. I love scallops and pumpkins...but never thought of combing them together. It does looks quite filling and delicious. Gustacious...just learnt a new word :-))

    1. yes it's a bit of a weird combo methinks Angie. but it tasted pretty good!

  2. Scallops here in the US cost a fortune, and I wouldn't waste them on this type of dish which could probably use something worth less than its weight in gold. I'd love to know more about what seemed to you to be wrong with that cookbook. Maybe the amount of fussing was over the top: for my taste, the pumpkin looked better when it was roasted cubes than when it was mush. Were there too many flavors?

    best... mae at

    1. yes they are expensive here too but i bought 'em frozen so they were a bit cheaper. It's a cheffy book Mae - lots of fussing and faffing around:=) And just too many flavours put together I think. I like my food a bit simpler with less competing flavours.

  3. Sherry! How can you say a recipe is too masculine? Are my recipes automatically too masculine? Hmph. :-)

    In other news, this does sound pretty tasty! I've had whipped pumpkin ricotta before, and while it's so very different the pumpkin added a nice layer of flavor. I'd love to try this one now! (Then again, I am a

    1. oh no don't be cross with me David :) Well, I find it hard to articulate but some recipes seem more masculine to me ... more savoury than sweet and more pernickety techniques maybe? He is a chef the author, so that's maybe why he is a bit fussy!

  4. Very interesting! I love the pumpkin part! Lots of flavors.

  5. this is a very interesting recipe! A lot going on. I love the pumpkin part!

  6. What I want to know is if the phrase With great glee and finesse, is yours or his! The Aussie tablespoon measure is one of the reasons I use mls in my recipes.
    from Tandy I Lavender and Lime

    1. all mine Tandy :=) I always rewrite the prose as per our copyright laws, so yep - all mine!:=) And yes it's crazy how every country has different tablespoons!

  7. Hmph! No one better dare tell me I cannot call some guy a gorgeous male! Half my male friends may be dishy gays but I belong to the 'utterly female' category . . . and never means never ! Absolutely love your recipe - it has already flown into the kitchen . . . simply cannot wait to buy the scallops . . . no hardship there in eastern coastal Australia . . . want go taste the za'atar and tahini - thanks !!!

    1. Go ahead, my dear! Call 'em gorgeous hunks as much as you like! HOpe you enjoy the dish!

  8. Sugar! The above belongs to Eha Carr with whom Google seems to be playing games . . . very funny!!!

  9. What interesting combinations! I always learn something here! Thank you!

  10. Very interesting and flavorful combination of ingredients. :)

  11. Looks like a delish recipe though would probably eat it as a snack. Love the design of the cookbook and colour lol

    1. Yes I think it's more of a starter really. Don't know how it would feed 6:=)

  12. I don't care about the book's cover if the recipes in it are worth to cook. Your dish sound like the one I would make. The flavors are great.

  13. I love the Middle Eastern flavours in this dish Sherry, particularly what you've done with the pumpkin, but I've learned the hard way not to combine such strong flavours with beautiful scallops. Could you taste the scallops, how I adore them. I'm not using seeds anymore, potentially disastrous for my gut, but I think I could work with this recipe.Gustacious is a great word.

    1. Yes I think you're right pauline. Perhaps a few too many strong flavours. I prefer simpler ...

  14. Wow! This looks filling. We get great scallops here in Scotland but they're expensive. I can get frozen minim scallops which I'd probably use instead as they're cheaper.

  15. What a stunning and complex restaurant-worth dish with some terrific flavours and textures. Loving some flavour nuances like the use of pomegranate molasses and sesame seeds. Great job!

  16. thanks Ben. Too many flavours I think :=)

  17. Haha yes some cookbooks are definitely masculine themed and I find some spaces/rooms are too! This does look very tasty though!

  18. You have the right to your thoughts and if you aren't crazy about it, you aren't crazy about it!

    I really like this line: "The average time-poor person ain't gonna have time for this fiddle-faddle..." Perfect.

  19. It looks like an interesting recipe - and I totally get what you say about masculine.

    1. Thank you David. I hesitated to write that, as I thought the PC police might jump on me :=)

  20. Chocolate cake and sprinkles = love :)

  21. I don't know Sherry, it looks too fussy with too many mixed flavors...for me anyway. The combination of scallops and winter squash is strange to my mind's 'flavor' eye. I could see cubed chicken with chickpeas and hummus, forget the dill and use the seeds as a scant garnish. Just me though. I don't think I would like the cookbook.

    1. yes i agree Liz. just all a bit too much! For a chef i think his sense of timing, technique and balance are a bit skewiff! The cookbook will be heading out of this house soon ...


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