This year's jack o'lantern featuring Nagini & Lord Voldemort, or, as my husband dubbed him, Furious George.

Halloween may be over, but Thanksgiving pies are fast approaching, so November is another great month for pumpkins.  I saved every last seed from our jack o'lantern to make one of my family's very favorite, and incidentally healthy, snacks:  pepitas!  Despite my love of the little darlings, I've never posted a recipe, because I didn't feel I had the technique perfected.  Continued use of the Google has only confused the issue, since it seems that every recipe is different.  I've found everything from seeds baked for several hours at 200°F to others slid them under the broiler for five minutes.

This year, instead of wading through a sea of conflicting instructions, I decided to consult an authority, and looked up the section on Nuts and Seeds in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  There I found this kernel of advice, "Toasting in a pan on the stovetop is better suited for the smallest seeds (like sesame, poppy, or pepitas)".  Once I was liberated from the oven, I finally found the technique to make perfect pepitas.

After cutting open the pumpkin, whether to bake or carve, remove the seeds and carefully separate them from the strings.  One internet tip I have adopted is giving the seeds a long bath in a small bowl of salt water.  There are tons of recipes for both sweet and savory seasonings, but I love how a light salting allows the flavor of the seeds themselves to shine through.

Place the pumpkin seeds in 1-2 cups water, with about a teaspoon of salt stirred in.  Allow the pepitas to soak overnight.  The next day, drain the seeds.  Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add the pepitas.  Initially I tried to toast them without any oil, but they stuck to the (nonstick) pan.  A tablespoon of olive oil was enough to lubricate the seeds and increase the nuttiness of the flavor without weighing them down.

Toast the seeds for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring the seeds often until they puff up slightly and become a light golden brown color.  Remove them from the heat before they develop burn spots like some of the ones below!  They will continue to cook for a few minutes once removed from the burner, then crisp up.  Try not to eat them before they cool down!

I'm sharing my quickly disappearing seeds with:

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days.


Ricki said...

I would never have thought to cook these up in a frypan--what a great idea. I love pepitas!

And that is *some* pumpkin. Wow. :)

Thanks so much for submitting to Wellness Weekend this week!

Paula said...

Love Furious George and the tip about cooking smaller seeds! Enjoy your pepitas...they are probably long gone as I write this though :)

Anonymous said...

I also just 'winged' toasting pumpkin seeds until this year. Jennifer Bain, food editor at the Toronto Star, put out a recipe this year. They worked out perfectly: 350 F, mix 2 cups of cleaned and dried seeds with about 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil. I tossed them every 15 minutes for about 45 min. Yummy!