- 1 small baking pumpkin such as a sugar pumpkin
- ¼ cup raw pepito-style snacking seeds (not the raw seeds from your pumpkin)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- fine, dried breadcrumbs
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 sprigs fresh marjoram
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper as needed
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons for carrots
- 1 tablespoon water, plus 3/4 cup for carrots
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned and roughly chopped
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 teaspoon marjoram leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon carrot tops, chopped
- 2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
- 4 small carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
ROAST THE PUMPKIN: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and fibers. Stuff each cavity with salt, pepper, 3 thyme and 3 marjoram sprigs. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil all over the flesh. Turn the pumpkin halves cut-side down onto a foil-lined tray and roast about 1 hour (depending on size), until well softened. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
DOUGH: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, ¼-teaspoon salt and pepitos. Pulse several times to grind the pepitos fairly well. Add the butter, water and egg yolks; pulsing several more times until a course meal texture is achieved that holds together when pressed between your thumb and fingers. Dump the mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap, form into a disc about ½ inch thick, wrap well and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
FILLING: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and a generous pinch of salt; cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to color. About 6 minutes.
In a large saucepan combine carrots, 3/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon chopped carrot tops, and 1 teaspoon chopped marjoram leaves, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the mixture over high heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce the pan to a simmer. Cook until carrots are cooked through, gently stirring until most of the liquid has almost evaporated and the carrots are glossy, about 20 minutes.
Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle scrape out the flesh and add it to a bowl.
In the bowl of a food processor add a scant 2 cups of the roasted pumpkin mash (reserve the rest for another use), add the leek mixture, 1-cup Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, ½ cup milk, 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, remaining 1 teaspoon marjoram leaves and the barest pinch of cayenne pepper. Pulse the mixture 8 or 10 times until it is well-mixed and fairly smooth. The leeks should be the only texture.
FINISH THE TARTS: Generously butter 4 (4 ½-inch) tart pans with a fluted edge and removable bottoms. Coat the sides and bottoms with the breadcrumbs. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Using your tart pans as a guide cut the dough into 4 appropriately sized discs to fit on the bottom only of the tart pans. Fit the discs in the bottom of the pans. Do not press the dough up the sides. Move the pans to the refrigerator to chill about 10 minutes.
Remove the cold, dough-lined tart pans from the refrigerator. Spread the pumpkin mixture over the entire surface of the tart pan, filling the pan completely. Smooth the top to level and attractively arrange the reserved carrot slices over the top of each tart. Choose the best and most uniform slices as you will have more than you need. Sprinkle the tarts with the remaining cheese.
Bake until well-browned and set. About 30 to 35 minutes. The breadcrumb crust should slightly pull away from the pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool some. When cool enough to handle but still warm, remove the tarts from the pans very carefully. Set aside to cool and serve at room temperature.