If you’re carving a jack-o-lantern, you may elect to discard everything inside. Separating the pumpkin seeds (pepitas in Spanish) from the sticky fibers may seem more trouble than it’s worth.
In our childhood, we could spend an hour meticulously separating those seeds from the jumbo pumpkin, just for the joy of making homemade pumpkin seeds (the ones from the store were so over-salted). As a busy working adult, we realized the value of time and bought unsalted pumpkin seeds to flavor at home.
But you can separate the seeds while watching TV, or delegate the task to the kids. The recipe for homemade toasted pumpkin seeds is below. And, good news for squash lovers: The seeds from all other winter squash—acorn or butternut, for example—can also be used.
PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR BREAKFAST
Bagels: Sprinkle on top of the cream cheese.
Cereal: Toss on cold or hot breakfast cereal, or blend into granola.
Garnish: Atop cottage cheese, French toast, pancakes, waffles, yogurt.
Raw pumpkin seeds, cleaned and ready for toasting. Photo courtesy EnlightenedCooking.com.
Muffins: Add to muffin batter (apple, corn, pumpkin or spice muffins), or sprinkle on a buttered muffin.
Pancakes: Add to pancake batter.
Garnish: Add to salad, soup, yogurt.
Sandwich: Sprinkle on a sandwich or wrap, add to grilled cheese.
Squash salad: Top a green salad with roasted squash and garnish with the seeds. For an entrée salad, add grilled chicken or other protein.
PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR LUNCH
Garnish: Top pasta, rice and other grains, roasted/grilled vegetables, salad, soup.
Goat cheese log: Roll a log of fresh goat cheese in the pumpkin seeds, or a seed/nut/fruit mix with pistachios or chopped pecans, and small dried fruit of choice (chopped dried cherries, cranberries, raisins). Serve on a cheese tray, or cut into rounds and serve with a green salad.
Mole Sauce: For beef, chicken, tacos. Here’s a recipe.
Pesto Sauce: Substitute pumpkin seeds for the pine nuts.
PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR DINNER
Brittle: See the recipe below.
Candied Pumpkin Seeds:. A lighter alternative to brittle. Coat the seeds with brown sugar and butter plus cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Add a dash of salt and roast at 250°F oven for 45 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Dip. Garnish store-bought hummus with whole seeds, or pulse the seeds and mix in smaller pieces. You can do the same with bean dip, Greek yogurt dip, spinach dip, etc.
Garnish: cakes, cupcakes, fruit salad, ice cream, pudding.
Mix-ins: Add to brownies, carrot cake, fudge, popcorn (and popcorn balls!).
Pudding: Add along with raisins or dried cherries/cranberries in rice pudding, or use them as toppings.
Trail Mix Or Chex Mix: Mix with Chex or Rice Squares, dried blueberries, cherries and/or cranberries; nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds
PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR DESSERT & SNACKS
Pumpkin seeds, toasted and seasoned. Photo
courtesy Emily | SimplyRecipes.com. See photos of the step-by-step process.
RECIPE: HOMEMADE TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Raw pumpkin seeds
Olive oil (substitute canola oil)
Salt or seasoned salt
Optional savory seasonings: cayenne, cumin, curry, garlic, Worcestershire sauce
Optional sweet seasonings: allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cinnamon sugar, vanilla sugar
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the pumpkin seeds and clinging fibers in a colander and rinse them under cold water. Remove the seeds and pick off the remaining fibrous strands. Wipe the seeds with a damp towel and let air-dry as needed.
2. SAUTÉ the seeds in a bit of oil until they are lightly browned. Transfer to a baking sheet.
3. SPRINKLE with salt and other spices as desired (err on the side of less spice rather than more). Bake about 10 minutes, until crisp. Drain on paper towels. After they cool, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.
RECIPE: PUMPKIN BRITTLE
1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup light-brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1. BUTTER an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
2. MELT the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and honey. Bring to a boil and cook about 6 minutes, without stirring, until the mixture is a medium amber color and a candy thermometer registers 280°F.
3. STIR in the pumpkin seeds. Cook until the mixture reaches 300°F about 2 minutes. Pour onto the greased baking sheet. When completely cool, break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from Martha Stewart.