I spend a lot of time at the university library. I’m there now in fact, taking a break before I pick up another book about l’histoire de la gastronomie, or les arts de la table: vaisselles et verriers (glasses and glassware, two different things in tableware.) If you knew me during my tenure at Brandeis, this library time shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you knew me when I was playing oboe, just imagine that I traded in the tiny practice room – often known as my bathroom – with a view over the River Maine and whispered conversations about finance.
It’s amazing how things can evolve over time: Practice room → musicology section of the library → gastronomy and cuisine section of the library. A university student’s time, if spent productively is often very solitary. I can’t remember a period of my studies when I wasn’t – well – studying.
However, one needs to do other things now and then. Recently, I and a couple of colleagues went on a research trip to the winery of Langlois Château in Saumur where we were introduced to the many varieties of wines produced in the Pays de la Loire as well as a tour of their wine-making facilities and cave. Tasting followed and there was something satisfying in the realization that the afternoon’s outing was also considered study.
Cooking has been difficult. Spending upwards of 10 hours in the library reading French articles, no matter how enthralling their subject has a habit of exhausting me. So much so that by the time I make it home at 8ish in the evening, all I want to do is throw pasta in a pot.
I’m not unique, I know. My fellow students, though many are young, recently trained chefs, prefer to throw stuff in a pot or eat at the campus restaurant.
I did take time to buy a tiny pumpkin and bake it in the oven.
And stuffed it with merguez and quinoa. (and a bit of cheese)
There is something very satisfying about stuffed squash. The tender sweetness of the pumpkin and the heartiness of the quinoa and piquant merguez. And this is reminds me of one of the first meals I cooked with sausage for my husband and I: a stuffed butternut squash and merguez with a pinch of saffron. saffron would have been excellent here too.
I still have a half of pumpkin left and I’m still debating what to do with it.
*insert canned laughter here*
- 1 small pumpkin, sliced in half, deseeded and scooped out
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- Salt, pepper to taste
- 1 Merguez sausage, about 90 grams
- 40 g quinoa
- ½ small green bell pepper, chopped, deseeded
- ½ small yellow onion minced
- Preheat oven to 220°C/440°F.
- Chop up garlic cloves and put in the pumpkin with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Cover in tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, until tender.
- In the meantime, prepare the quinoa by boiling it in 3X its quantity in water. It should take about 20 – 30 minutes. When it’s about halfway done, cook the merguez in a pan, chop in to small pieces about halfway through and continue cooking and add the onions and pepper.
- When quinoa, sausage, and onions and pepper are done add mix them all together and season to taste. Herbs de Provence, extra garlic, sage, saffron, whatever you like. Even a bit of cheese.
- Pile it in the hollow of the pumpkin and then bake for another 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and for everything to finish cooking. Serve warm.