Clinging to the pumpkin's flesh are hidden little treasures — pepitas, commonly known as pumpkin seeds. These seeds have a chewy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor. When roasted, they are a delicious, nutritious treat. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of phosphorous, magnesium and manganese, as well as zinc, iron and copper. They are also a good source of protein and vitamin K.
Historically, pumpkins and their seeds were a celebrated food of the Native American Indians who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties. They also are a special hallmark of traditional Mexican cuisine.
Preparing pumpkin seeds for roasting is quite easy. Remove them from the pumpkin's cavity; then remove any excess pulp with a paper towel. Spread out on paper towels and let them dry out thoroughly.
Place them in a single layer on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and roast at 200 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. For added flavor, you can lightly salt them or season them with a favorite blend of herbs and salts. You can store roasted seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two months.
For a sweet snack, try this easy recipe:
Put one tablespoon each of vegetable oil and brownulated sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.
Heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar turns a light golden brown color stirring constantly to avoid burning.
Pour the caramelized sugar mixture over the roasted pumpkin seeds, and stir to coat.
Toss seeds in cinnamon to coat
Quick serving tips for using roasted pumpkin seeds:
Add to salads or sautéed vegetables
Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal or granola mix.
Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tangy salad dressing.
Treat your family to a hearty fall harvest breakfast with pumpkin pancakes topped with cinnamon-coated pumpkin seeds.
If you haven’t carved out those plump pumpkins as part of your front entrance Halloween display, think twice before throwing out the pumpkin seeds. It is a splendid treat to salvage these savory little seeds and a healthy bonus to your dietary needs.