It’s pumpkin season! If you don’t have one already, surely it’s on your radar. So I’m here to make a preemptive pitch:
When you carve that sucker, DO NOT throw away the seeds. Instead, roast those mofos. Roasted pumpkin seeds are fantastic, and with a bit of extra work, you can make them so incredibly delicious that you will NEVER toss the seeds again.
Today, I’ll show you how it’s done. (…with a heap of credit going to Jessica Gavin’s and Valerie Brunmeier’s recipes, which helped me map out the below.)
Beautiful, aren’t they? You’ll be amazed at how easy they are to prepare, and how much better they taste than the ones from the store. In fact, the beauty of pumpkin seeds is that you can make them taste like whatever you want them to taste like. Sweet, salty, spicy, whatever. They are blank canvases, waiting to be primed with oil and painted with spices.
I picked up this trick from my late father, who was a total pumpkin seed hound. He made several batches every October. When I was a small child, I assumed they just tasted like pumpkins and stayed far away from his annual trays — even if I still quietly appreciated the tradition. Eventually, I discovered that they’re basically just mutant sunflower seeds.
Tl;dr: You don’t need to enjoy the taste of pumpkins to adore the seeds. Don’t be afraid!
Here’s what to do:
1) Scoop out the seeds!
You don’t need a particularly large pumpkin for this. I used a modest one that’s certainly no bigger than the “cheapies” supermarkets sell at this time of year. Larger pumpkins will (usually) produce more seeds, but any pumpkin that could be described as “medium” should give you enough.
This is messy work, so if you’re doing it inside, lay out a bed of newspapers first. Pretend you’re gonna let a guinea pig live on your dining room table. Your hands will be slimy and there will be stringy wads of pumpkin guts everywhere. It’s all pretty awesome, in its way. Revel in the gross process.
2) Clean and rinse.
Some recipes are militant about cleaning the seeds, but IMO, you don’t need to be too precise. Pull out any obvious chunks or strands of pumpkin guts, quickly rinse the seeds in a strainer, and you’re done.
If some of the seeds still have tiny pieces of pumpkin on them, don’t worry about it. By the time you’re done roasting them, those tiny pieces will just turn into caramelized bits of oily spices, anyway.
If the seeds still seem slimy to you, GOOD, you want them to be a little slimy!
Let the seeds dry for a minute or two before moving on. (Or just make sure you vigorously shake the strainer to remove as much water as possible. Pretend it’s a maraca.)
3) Oil and season!
Transfer the seeds to a mixing bowl, or better yet, a cereal bowl. Yeah, a cereal bowl. Let’s do this in your Lucky Charms bowl, like the rebels we are.
Add a generous amount of olive oil and whatever spices you want, and then use your hands to mix everything up. When you’re done, every single seed should be oily as hell.
Now, let’s talk about those spices. This is where you can get creative, but if you wanna keep things basic, the only truly mandatory element is salt. If oil and salt sound good enough to you, go with that and you’ll be happy.
I’m hesitant to tell you exactly what to do since devising a formula is part of the fun, but if you’re determined to do it my way — or my father’s way, I suppose — here’s what you’ll need:
– Loads of salt.
– A handful of sugar.
– A dusting of black pepper.
– A way-too-generous dusting of cayenne pepper.
– Spoonful of garlic powder.
– Spoonful of powdered ginger.
That blend will create BOMB ASS KILLER PSYCHO GREAT MEGA HOT roasted pumpkin seeds. Actually, you know what? I take back what I said before. Don’t make up your own mix of spices. Just do it my way.
The end result will be super spicy seeds with a salty/sweet kick, and you will 100% definitely keep eating them until there are no more left to eat.
4) Bake and shake!
Spread the seeds out over a cookie sheet. (You can use a little cooking spray on the sheet, but I don’t, as I prefer mine to be a little “burny.” It’s your call.)
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Stir the seeds every five minutes or so.
There’s no way to give you an EXACT cooking time. I mean, other recipes do, but my experiences haven’t been at all uniform. You just gotta keep looking at the things and pull them after they’ve browned and gotten crispy.
You’ll definitely want to yank them before they blacken, though. Be conservative as a rule. They’ll continue to crisp even after you pull them out, so once they’ve been baking for 20 minutes, it’s time to start eagle-eyeing those fuckers.
5) EAT THEM.
If you performed your duties correctly, you will be rewarded with pure deliciousness. Guys, these are SO GOOD. Sweet, spicy and completely addictive.
You can eat them the way you eat sunflower seeds — meaning just the seeds — but most people eat the shells, too. They’re perfectly harmless and loaded with flavor. My recommendation? Split the difference. Eat the seeds first, and then nibble at the shells. It’s like getting two snacks in one, and if you willfully ignore the fact that you slathered everything with oil, salt and sugar, it’s all pretty healthy!
This is hardly a groundbreaking recipe, but I felt compelled to give roasted pumpkin seeds the Dino Drac treatment. They’ve been a part of my Halloween season for as long as I can remember, and it’s another way to celebrate autumn even if all you’re really doing is sitting in your kitchen with olive oil and pumpkin guts all over your hands.