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Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

La Petite Maison Verte: Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The other day I promised to share my recipe for the addictive roasted pumpkin seeds I made after carving our pumpkins.  I am calling them "addictive" because every time I walk past the little container full of them, I have to stop and grab a few.  I cannot walk past without snatching at least a few...or 10.

I had never roasted pumpkin seeds before this year so I was a total newbie at it.  I'd definitely eaten them at other people's houses but had found the texture to be odd (chewy, maybe?), not like a crispy, crunchy snack I craved.  So I went looking for the best method of cooking them to achieve the snappy, crispy bite I desired plus a flavor I could enjoy on top of salads or by the handful.

I think I found a good method for cooking the seeds, the flavor though, I'm still not sure about.  As I said, I really enjoy the flavor of these Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds but Brian isn't hooked on them like I am.  I'm sad I used our entire cache of seeds without trying out various seasoning options, so I'm really tempted to go pick up another pumpkin to carve, just for the seeds inside.  Maybe after halloween when they go on sale.....

Apparently, there's also some controversy about whether or not you should eat the "shell" or "hull" of the pumpkin seed or spit it out (a la sunflower seeds with their shells on, which is what Brian thought you were supposed to do).  A quick Google search informed me that there is no right or wrong way to eat your seeds however with the hulls left ON you get an extra source of beneficial fiber, so I say eat those shells!

I also learned that boiling the pumpkin seeds in salty water for 10 minutes before baking them helps the salty flavor permeate into the seeds better than if you just roast them with the seasoning.  As for the rest of the seasonings, you could go simple and classic with olive oil, salt and pepper or all out spicy with caribbean jerk seasoning or cayenne pepper and chili powder.  Or maybe try a savory blend of seasonings and dried herbs like rosemary, garlic and thyme or even an Indian version with curry powder.     But I think next time I roast pumpkin seeds, I am going to try a purely sweet rendition with brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 heaping cups shell-on pumpkin seeds, rinsed and cleaned off from all attached stringy pumpkin bits
4 cups water
4 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch crushed black pepper

For the brine:  After thoroughly cleaning seeds and separating them from the pumpkin "guts", add seeds, water and kosher salt (using a ratio of 2 cups of water + 2 tablespoons salt per one cup pumpkin seeds) to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Allow seeds to simmer for 10 minutes, then drain and allow to dry on towels for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or longer) to allow most of the water to evaporate.

When you're ready to roast, preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine brined, dried seeds, olive oil, maple syrup, chili powder, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Toss thoroughly until all seeds are evenly coated.  Spread seeds out on baking sheet in a single layer (you may need 2 baking sheets) and roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring seeds every 10 minutes until seeds feel lighter when you stir them and look golden and crunchy (mine took about 40 minutes).  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature on baking sheet(s).  Store in an air-tight container (after completely cooled) at room temperature.

Serving ideas:

-by the handful
-mixed in with spiced, roasted nuts as a party appetizer
-sprinkled on top of a seasonal salad
-mixed into homemade granola (especially if you make a sweet variation!)
-sprinkled over a warm bowl of butternut squash soup or a hearty chili or stew
-mixed with popcorn for a satisfying movie-night snack

I loved these roasted seeds on top of a salad and cut up veggies with some leftover shredded chicken and black beans for lunch!

Let me know what seasonings you try and how you eat your roasted pumpkin seeds!

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