Save Your Seeds (and Roast ’Em!)
Watch your back, sunflower seeds, ’cause pumpkin seeds are coming out of your shadow. Both are thought to have originated in the Americas, and from North to South, both have been used by Native Americans in cuisine and medicine for centuries. In the U.S., though, the sunflower seed has dominated as a go-to snack, but now the pumpkin seed is pushing back.
Known as pepitas and used often in Mexican cuisine, pumpkin seeds are also popular in South America as well as parts of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. They’re packed with nutritional benefits and super versatile in recipes. But our favorite thing about pumpkin seeds is roasting a batch and scarfing them down. Here’s more on this addictive, easy and super good-for-you snack:
LET’S GET READY TO ROAST
First things first! Clean out your pumpkin, scooping against the flesh with a sharp-edged utensil. Place the whole gooey mess in a bowl or on newspaper. Separate as many seeds as you can from the membrane, place them in a colander and rinse to remove the rest of the stringy stuff. (Alternately, you can soak seeds in cold water for 10 minutes.) Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
- THE STANDARD: Gently boil clean seeds in a saucepan for 10 minutes. Use 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon of salt for every 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds. Remove from the heat and drain. Heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat the bottom of a roasting pan or baking sheet with olive oil (canola or coconut are also good choices). Spread out the seeds in a single layer, and toss to coat them with the oil on the pan. Place on the top oven rack. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and desired crispness. Cool on a cooling rack.
- THE SHORTCUT: Omit boiling step, and toss clean seeds with oil and spices. Spread on baking sheet and roast.
- THE SUPER SPEEDY: Just follow our fastest featured recipe ever!
PYREX MICROWAVE PUMPKIN SEEDS
For a quick single batch, simply get out your PYREX EASY GRAB PIE PLATE and follow our easy recipe. You’ll be snacking on delicious turbo-roasted pumpkin seeds faster than you can say, “trick-or-treat!” Enjoy!
FILE UNDER NUTRITIOUS
More than just tasty, roasted pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, fiber and vegetarian protein (they provide nearly 9 grams per 1/4 cup of roasted seeds). You’ll get a nice daily dose of iron (about 16%) and magnesium (a whopping 40% of the recommended daily intake). They provide healthy levels of other essential minerals, too, including zinc (you’ll get even more if you eat the shell), manganese, phosphorus, copper and potassium.
HAVE FUN WITH FLAVORS
Purists are content with the simple combo of salt and oil, but we think you should let your palate guide you and customize to complement your cravings. A few of our favorites:
- Sweet: Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar, or toss with honey and ginger.
- Sassy: Kick it up with a combo of cayenne pepper and brown sugar or cocoa and chili powder.
- Spicy: Shake on cumin and chili powder, or add a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce or Sriracha and soy sauce.
- Zesty: Go for onion and garlic, an Italian blend or lemon-pepper seasoning.
PEP UP YOUR RECIPES
Snacking aside, savory spiced seeds give a nice spicy kick to soups and salads. Sub ’em for the pine nuts in pesto, or toss a couple of tablespoons into sautéed veggies. Sweetly flavored versions make a tasty topping for oatmeal or other cereal. Try chopping and sprinkling a handful on cream cheese-topped bagels, yogurt or ice cream. Mix any flavor with popcorn or trail mix for a crunchy, nutritious boost.
INVITE THE FAMILY
Pumpkin seeds are the most popular choice for roasting, but you can do the same with other winter squash seeds and enjoy equally happy results. Try seeds from butternut, acorn or spaghetti squash. Tip: Since these seeds are smaller than pumpkin seeds, they won’t take as long to roast, so watch them carefully.
EXPERT TIPS ON ROASTING SEEDS
- Although many people prefer to rinse away all of the pumpkin membrane, others leave a bit and enjoy the added flavor.
- Allowing raw seeds to thoroughly dry will result in a crunchier texture. You can toast them while damp; however, this partially steams the seeds and they’ll be a bit chewier.
- The hulls are edible, but feel free to remove them.
- If you store your seeds in an airtight container, they’ll keep longer but will lose some of their crunch.
- Save a cup of the raw seeds and use them to make a delicious salad dressing or toss in a smoothie.
- Strange, but true: The phrase “No guts, no glory” applies in the kitchen, too. So whether you’re carving jack-o’-lanterns or using squash for a recipe, be sure to save the seeds for a quick, easy and super yummy snack or recipe add.
YOUR TURN: What are your best tips for roasting (or using) pumpkin seeds?