When you say pumpkin seeds, two snacks may come to mind. Those who grew up making snacks post-jack-o-lanterning every October think of the large cream-colored seeds, washed clean of their pumpkin goo, roasted and salted, a great counterpart to the season’s sweet treats. Those who grew up with connections to Latinx cultures picture the smaller flat dark green pepitas that are used in everything from salads to salsas and are just the center seed of the pumpkin removed from the pale hull.
Luckily for us, both the hull and middle are equally edible, and delicious when roasted. Which means that whether you have some fresh raw whole seeds on hand from adventures with a pumpkin or a bag of the hull-less version from the local grocery, pumpkin seeds are a quick and easy snack, ingredient or garnish.
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The fresh raw seeds and hulled ones alike benefit from a good roasting in the oven to crisp them up and intensify the flavor. While they are wonderful just salted, they can also hold up to spice mixes, dried herbs, and even can go sweet with sugar and warm spices to garnish desserts. They are a great addition to snack mixes and granola, are perfect toppers for yogurt and ice cream, and can add terrific texture to salads or side dishes.
The basics are simple: Toss the seeds in the fat of your choice (clarified butter and olive oil are both favorites of mine, but I have also done them in duck fat), add any seasoning, and spread on a sheet pan and roast until crisp. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
If you’re dealing with seeds straight out of the pumpkin, they’ll need to be washed before roasting. Clean the seeds well of the pumpkin flesh by rubbing in a bowl of water, draining a couple of times until pretty clean. Dry on lint-free cloth towels before continuing with the prep, be sure to avoid paper towels which have a tendency to stick. Store-bought seeds can go straight to seasoning.
Prep your flavors
For every cup of seeds, you want one tablespoon of fat, one teaspoon of kosher salt, and up to a tablespoon of seasoning. The seasoning can be anything from a combo of sugar and cinnamon for a sweet version, to your favorite spice blend or grill rub, or dried herbs. If you are using a pre-made rub or blend that includes salt, eliminate the extra salt.
Heat your oven to 300 for raw seeds or 400 for hulled and place a rack in the upper third. In a large bowl toss your seeds with the fat of your choice, and then the seasoning, mixing well so that they are coated evenly. Spread on a sheet pan in one layer.
For raw seeds, roast at 300 for 40-50 minutes, stirring or tossing every ten minutes until crisp and lightly golden brown. For pepitas, roast at 400 for 10-12 minutes until they have deepened in color and are crisp. For both, cool completely on the pan on a rack and then store in an airtight container.
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