Q: I'm looking for information about roasting pumpkin seeds. Any suggestions for different varieties? What can I use for flavorings? A: Pumpkin seeds make...
Q: I’m looking for information about roasting pumpkin seeds. Any suggestions for different varieties? What can I use for flavorings?
A: Pumpkin seeds make tasty, nutritious snacks and are nice additions to salads, baked goods, casseroles and soups. Although many people roast only those seeds they remove from the Halloween jack-o’-lanterns they carve each year, the seeds of all varieties of pumpkins and squashes are edible, and many can be roasted with delicious results.
The pumpkins most commonly cultivated for their seeds and especially good for roasting are Cucurbita pepo ‘Shine Skin,’ ‘Lady Nail’ and ‘Snow White’ (when the white hull is removed, the green meats are known as “pepitas,” which are popular in Southwestern and Mexican cooking). Look for these varieties at farmers markets. You might even consider planting some of these pumpkins in your garden for next fall’s harvest.
After scooping the seeds from your pumpkin, place them in a colander and rinse them thoroughly, using your fingers to remove any clinging pulp. Then lay the wet seeds on a dry dishtowel or several paper towels to absorb excess moisture before roasting.
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One of my favorite flavor combinations is a savory blend of olive oil, dried rosemary and salt. For 2 cups of pumpkin seeds, you need 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste.
Grind the rosemary in a spice or coffee grinder. Combine it with the other ingredients, stir to coat the seeds well, then spread the seeds on a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Check frequently for doneness, since the high oil content of the seeds will cause them to roast quickly. Remove the seeds as soon as they turn golden brown; outside the oven they will continue to cook for a few minutes more.
For a variation, try substituting 2 teaspoons each of ground fennel, anise and coriander seed for the rosemary. Or, if you prefer a sweet treat, take inspiration from the flavors of pumpkin pie, and use 4 tablespoons melted butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
Feel free to experiment with ingredients you like. If you enjoy spicy foods, you might try using dried and ground chipotle or ancho chiles, ground cumin or black pepper. Remember that some hot seasonings pack a punch, so start with a small amount, and adjust to taste.
As with all seeds and nuts, pumpkin seeds will stay fresh longest when kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Stored properly, they should keep for several months.
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