It’s happening again. Pumpkins are everywhere! All shapes, colors and sizes. And the food magazines’ November issues have arrived in the mail with turkeys on the cover to remind us we better start planning our holiday menus. Food & Wine and Bon Appetit. Yet, in San Antonio, it’s still 80 degrees and nary a wale of corduroy or cable-knit sweater in sight.
But that’s alright. This will give me plenty of time to figure out exactly which new pumpkin recipes I want to share at Thanksgiving. For the last few years, I have been testing my pumpkin skills by making some pretty spectacular soups and desserts, so the bar has been set pretty high.
The pumpkin pie pudding I made two years ago for Thanksgiving was, according to David, “the world’s best pudding.” Let’s not forget about the pumpkin chiffon pie that launched my affection for homemade roasted pumpkin. After the holidays, I even made a pumpkin ice cream with the leftover roasted pumpkin I didn’t use in the pie.
Last year, I shared with you how easy it is to roast a sugar pie pumpkin. It just takes a few minutes to cut it and remove the seeds and the oven does the rest of the work in about an hour. The difference in the quality of the dish with fresh roasted pumpkin is worth every bit of effort. In fact, like me, you just may swear off the canned stuff forever.
No matter what pumpkin dish I decide to make for the holidays, it all starts with a sugar pie pumpkin–those little ones that weigh in between two and four pounds. While they make adorable fall decorations, they are also mandatory ingredients in any pumpkin recipe.
A friend recently told me that she roasted a pumpkin AND roasted the seeds. Hmm, I thought. I kind of like that idea. Considering the seeds are edible and the fact that I usually just toss the messy innards, I really should do my part to use every part of the pumpkin–this would make my frugal grandmother so proud. I could almost feel her smile beaming down on me when I acted on this great idea.
Messiness and tediousness aside, the roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious and healthy and can be flavored with a wide variety of seasonings. Spice things up with a bit of a few pinches of chile or chipotle powder, cumin powder, curry powder or rosemary or let the natural flavor shine with a few pinches of sea salt.
Thanks to my friend–and my grandmother–I will never again throw away the seeds. They really help to kick off the fall season with just the right crunch.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamins, so the next time you roast a pumpkin, reserve the innards and roast the seeds for a healthy snack.
- 1 medium pumpkin sugar pie is preferable (since the seeds are smaller)
- About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse kosher or Maldon salt eliminate the salt if you are doing a sweet spice mixture
- Seasonings of choice--I used a few generous shakes of paprika and a few light shakes of red pepper flakes but you could use curry powder, cumin, chile or chiptole powder, rosemary
Cut open the pumpkin and using a metal spoon scoop out the insides. Carefully separate the seeds from the stringy core and rinse the seeds well. If some stringy matter stays on the seeds, it's fine, but do try and remove as much as you can. (Note: If you hold the stringy innards in one hand and pull it apart with the other, the seeds will easily separate. Others suggest putting the innards in a bowl of water and watch the unattached seeds rise to the top. Sometimes the innards just need a little prodding.)
In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water--about 2 cups of water for each half cup of seeds. Then add a half tablespoon of salt for each cup of water. Bring water to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. I like to use a few paper towels to dry the seeds as much as you can. You will notice the seeds are a little darker now.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil and then add the clean, dry pumpkin seeds. Toss with your hands to coat the seeds with oil and then add whatever spice mixture you like--I used coarse salt, paprika and red pepper flakes.
Roast for 10-20 minutes or until they turn a little golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet. Serve in a small bowl and enjoy.
Place any leftover seeds in a covered container and store at room temperature.
Other seasoning ideas include: cinnamon-sugar, ginger-orange zest, cheesy