Pumpkins are everywhere now -- pureed into soups, roasted and carved into scary faces. Youíve scooped out that white gooey strands and the slimy seeds inside and while you might think about throwing them out, think again. Those seeds are tasty, versatile and healthful. Nay, do not toss them into the trash, for they are the pepitas, beloved in Mexico and Spain. Save them, savor them with these 13 ways of looking at and cooking a pumpkin seed (with extra recipes).
The following two techniques will be needed for some of the later recipes:
Wash the seeds and soak for an hour. Let dry for a day. Toss with a teaspoon of cooking oil. Spread on a cookie sheet and salt. Bake at 300 degrees F. for 30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so. Let cool. Eat. use in salad or atop ice cream.
Wash and drain the seeds and brush or spray a cookie sheet with olive or coconut oil. Spread seeds on sheet and coat with more oil. Bake for about 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F. until lightly brown. Remove, drain or blot on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
Many options. Use Worcestershire sauce and butter instead of oil to toss before roasting or toasting. Toss with cayenne or chili powder or cumin or onion powder or curry powder. Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan. Add a little truffle oil to the veggie oil as you roast.
In holiday stuffing
Use hulled raw seeds in stuffing instead of walnuts or pecans. This works especially well with a cornbread stuffing with perhaps a bit of Poblano chile.
Peanuts schmeanuts. Use your pepitas! Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. and keep a lightly oiled large sheet of foil on a baking sheet warm in the oven. Toast a cup of hulled raw pepitas. Cook a cup of sugar, 1/2 c. water and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan stirring with a fork until melted and golden. Keep cooking by swirling the pan until even more deeply golden. Stir in the seeds and pour it quickly onto the large sheet of foil on a baking sheet youíve been keeping warm in the oven. Spread thin before it hardens. Cool it until completely hard and then break it up.
In a skillet, cook a cup of shelled pepitas with a slice of bread, a crushed clove of garlic a small chopped onion in 2 T. of oil, until the bread is golden brown. Stir in 2 T. of chopped green chilies. Mix it all in a food processor until smooth then add 14 oz of chicken broth and a 1/2 c. of whipping cream and a dash of salt. Use for pork, pasta, chicken and grilled salmon.
Use your toasted pepitas as a garnish for Pumpkin or squash soup, atop a taco, on a beet salad (any salad), or chili.
Use pumpkin seed oil in vinaigrette with fig vinegar. Itís great for your reproductive organs (or so I read)! You can also toss it on potatoes for a potato salad, or brush it on meats before roasting.
Add toasted pumpkin seeds to dried chopped apricots and candied walnuts. And OK, even Chex.
Great on crusty Italian bread hot out of the oven, or as a dip. Combine 1/2 c. toasted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro, and 2 cloves of garlic in a blender or food processor and process until combined. Add 1/3 c. softened butter, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Process to mix. Store in the refrigerator, but serve at room temperature. Omit the garlic and cilantro and add nutmeg and use it on hot gingerbread.
Toast 2 c. of pumpkin seeds and a touch of ancho chili powder in a sautť pan with a bit of oil. Crush them up and add 2 t. of fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Dredge chicken breasts in the mixture and sautť the chicken in olive oil until golden then place in a 425 degree F. oven for about 15-20 minutes.
This sauce can be used to toss in pasta or blended into sour cream or cream cheese for a dip or as an essence in any stew, soup or sauce. This one has basil as well, but is particularly good with pork, and even for firmer fish like trout or bass. Combine 1/2 c. hulled, roasted pumpkin seeds, 2 T. grated Parmesan and 2 cloves garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the seeds are finely ground. Add 1 c. basil, 1/2 c. parsley, 2 T. lemon juice and 2 t. lemon zest and pulse in 1/2 c. of olive oil until the herbs are chopped and olive oil is just incorporated. Serve immediately, or freeze for up to two months.
Line up the children and the rest of the family and see how far you can spit the pepitas. Itís not how far it goes or where it lands that matters, but the journey it took to get there.
And a few recipes:
High-test Pumpkin Seeds
These are a good garnish for a pumpkin martini (recipe below), a rum or bourbon based cocktail or for ice cream
1Ĺ cup pumpkin seeds, raw and cleaned
Ĺ cup dark rum
Ĺ cup bourbon
1Ĺ T. brown sugar
Ĺ t. ground ginger
Ĺ t. (optional, though highly recommended)
ľ t. ground mace
ĺ t. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Mix the the pumpkin seeds, dark rum, bourbon and brown sugar to a small saucepan set over low heat. Simmer until the pumpkin seeds begin to turn gray in the middle. Remove the saucepan from the heat and drain all of the liquid from the seeds. In a bowl, toss the seeds with the spices and then spread into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure the seeds donít stick.
This has many ingredients but itís so worth it. Serve before your holiday meals.
1 T sugar
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
3 t. vodka
2 t. heavy cream
1 t. canned pure pumpkin puree
1 T. maple syrup
1/4 t. vanilla extract
Toasted pumpkin seeds garnish
Mix the sugar and half of the pumpkin pie spice on a small plate. Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in water, then dip in the sugar to coat.
Fill a martini shaker with ice and mix the vodka, cream, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and the remaining pumpkin pie spice. Shake vigorously, then strain into the prepared glass.
You do not want to miss this! On Oct. 16, next Tuesday, chef Gary Kim from Sheep & Wolves in LA will join the team at Ore Nellís Barbeque on Badgerís Island in Kittery, Maine, for a one night only pop-up. It all starts at 4 p.m. Gary was a co-founder of Anju Noodle Bar in Kittery and then went off to the left coast to launch Sheep & Wolves, a pop-up/collab/events business. Itís sure to be oodles of fun.
Rachel Forrest is a former restaurant owner, reviewer and Exeter resident who now lives in and Austin, Texas. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of her columns at www.seacoastonline.com/topics/dining-out.