Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: The Best Part of the Whole Jack O’ Lantern Thing
If you have young children, or are just a big Halloween fan, then in the next week or so you will probably find yourself armpit deep in a pumpkin. As you roll up your sleeves to plunge your forearm into the slimy murky depths of your next jack o’ lantern, you will no doubt have two thoughts pass through your mind…three if you do have kids.
2) I hope you kids appreciate what I do for you (optional).
3) What am I going to do with all of these pumpkin seeds?
Toast them. It’s simple, the resulting snack is not only delicious and very satisfyingly crunchy, but also very nutritious and high in fiber as well, and you feel very pleased with yourself for being so eco-friendly by turning seeds headed for the trash bin into a healthy snack. Kids usually love these, too, and definitely get a kick out of the whole harvesting process. They are a good option for after school snacking or to round out a school lunch.With just a sprinkle of salt, pumpkin seeds are absolutely delicious. But you can use this as an opportunity to knock around in your spice drawer and get wacky with the seasonings. Just toss the seeds in the spices before you roast or toast them and create your very own house pumpkin seeds (scroll down for some suggestions).
There are two ways to go about transforming the slippery little seeds into salty crispy bites. Either way, you start by removing all of the seeds from the pumpkin and pulling off all the stringy, goopy pulp. Rinse the seeds and pat them dry (if you can leave them to dry out on a dishtowel or baking sheet for several hours, all the better).
1) Roast them in the oven: Preheat the oven to 300° F. Spread the dried seeds on a baking sheet with a few teaspoons of vegetable or peanut oil and toss to coat the seeds evenly. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.
Roast until golden and crunchy, 40 to 50 minutes, stirring and turning occasionally. Serve warm or at room temp, giving the seeds an additional sprinkle of salt if necessary.
2) Toast them in a skillet: Heat a couple of teaspoons of vegetable or peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add the dry seeds, and stir and toss them until they are golden brown in color and crispy, about 5 minutes. Season with kosher salt.
Some seasoning ideas (you’ll want to use about 1/2 teaspoon total spice for every cup of seeds):
-garlic and/or onion powder
-cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cumin, combined (you could also add a pinch of sugar for contrast, and a teaspoon of lime juice before roasting)
-Old Bay seasoning
-chili powder and oregano
-cumin, cinnamon, ground ginger, cayenne and a pinch of sugar
You can keep the seeds in an airtight jar for a week or so, and you may wish to re-crisp them in the oven if they start to soften.