Monday, October 31, 2011

Italian Roasted Pumpkin Seeds With a Twist

Tonight we finally got our Halloween pumpkins carved.  My four year old is now at the age that she can be involved in the whole cleaning and carving process.  Now my house smells like pumpkin because I have pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven.  If you've never saved your pumpkin seeds for roasting, it's super easy and I'm going to show you how to make this yummy, healthy snack.

First, you'll need to separate your seeds from the pumpkin guts (pulp).  I put two bowls in the carving work area, one for pumpkin guts and one for seeds.  As you are cleaning out the inside of your pumpkin, you need to separate the seeds from the pulp.  The ends of the seeds stick to the pulp, so some squeezing might be in order.  This is a perfect job for the kids because it keeps them away from the knives and mine really wasn't strong enough to scrape the inside of the pumpkin yet.  

Preheat the oven to 300F degrees while you put the pumpkins seeds in a strainer and rinse them off, making sure to get the remaining pumpkin pulp off the seeds.  Oil a cookie sheet and spread the pumpkin seeds in a flat layer on the cookie sheet.  Pour the seeds out onto the oiled cookie sheet and flatten into a single layer of seeds.  Some pulp may remain in the bottom of the strainer while rinsing, but it usually sticks there and doesn't come out while you dump your seeds.  Just pick out what does end up on your sheet.

Now, this is where some people differ when roasting pumpkin seeds.  The Food Network says to first roast your seeds bare for 30 minutes, pull them out to season, and then cook them for another 20 minutes.  I tried this method tonight and I just about burned the seeds.  I only put them in the second time for a few minutes because they were already so dark.  They would have burned to a crisp had I cooked them 20 more minutes.  Maybe I overcrowded the oven with two sheets so if you try this method just watch your seeds.

Instead, I usually oil, salt, and pepper the pumpkin seeds before placing them in the oven and I only cook them for a total of 15-25 minutes until they are golden brown and crunchy.  If you aren't sure about doneness, try one!  I oil and season them right on the cookie sheet.  We are not big salt users around here, but I use the salt liberally with pumpkin seeds. You can season to taste.

Tonight I did two different batches.  One regular oil, salt, and pepper, and one batch of Italian seasoned.  I oiled the seeds, then covered the seeds in salt, McCormick's Garlic Bread Sprinkle (garlic and Romano Cheese), and garlic powder.  We are garlic lovers, in fact, we eat it raw and roast it with everything, so you might prefer a lighter coat of garlic.

I brought my husband a plate with both varieties and he liked the new Italian seasoned better.  I prefer the Italian too, but they could use some more salt.  It's past Kaylie's bedtime, so I'll have to wait for her taste test.  Check my Facebook page for her opinion.

Here are some other seasoning options from The Food Network's Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe:

Sweet - Cinnamon and sugar
Italian on left, salt/pepper on right
Indian - garam masala; mix with currants after toasting
Spanish - toss with smoked paprika; mix with slivered almonds after toasting
Italian - grated Parmesan and dried oregano
BBQ - brown sugar, chipolte chili powder, and ground cumin 

How do you toast your seeds?  Or do you do something different with them?  Brittle perhaps?

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