Saturday, October 18, 2008
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds to the 3rd power
The first week I saw pumpkins for sale at the Perrysburg Farmer's Market, I bought one immediately and named her Penelope. Penelope was huge, easily a 25 pound-er, perfect for a jack-o-lantern. I, however, was not going to waste my time in such impractical absurdity. (Although, if we ever have kids, or little nieces and nephews, I'm sure pumpkin carving will become a necessary tradition.)
I should have waited until the pie pumpkins were harvested as they are smaller and tastier than jack-o-lantern pumpkins, which don't have reliably flavorful flesh. Gigantic jack-o-lantern pumpkins are better know for their ability to splatter into orange chunks of shrapnel when rambunctious teenagers steal them off your front porch and hurl them into the street.
The first order of business once I slaughtered Penelope (and it did feel like a slaughter this pumpkin was that big, and I had grown a bit fond of her) was to gut her. I got over this quickly though because, honestly, the visceral pleasures of pumpkin goop did take me back to my childhood and scooping out, preparing, and eating the pumpkin seeds are my favorite part of October's culinary rituals.
Admittedly, separating the seeds from the pulp can be a tedious endeavor, but this year, I took the easy way out and soaked the seeds in water to loosen them from the pumpkin guts. While this method is easy and reduces hands-on time in making roasted seeds, it has two drawbacks. First, it washes away some of the seeds' flavor. Second, it will make roasting time a bit longer, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Ultimately, I think there are two kinds of people in this world: those that have the patience for picking pumpkin guck off of seeds by hand, and those that don't. You'll have to decide which one you are.
Then the seeds get tossed with a sweet, salty, spicy mixture of spices, creating the 3 powers that be as far as toasted pumpkin seeds are concerned.
Sweet, Salty, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
Note: The amounts given here are a guideline, as the yield of pumpkin seeds varies from pumpkin to pumpkin. Keep the ratios the same, but adjust amounts as necessary. Penelope yielded about 2 cups of seeds.
4 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
pumpkin seeds from 1 pumpkin, cleaned of guck
Mix first 5 ingredients in bowl, add pumpkin seeds and toss to coat evenly with spice mixture. Spread in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet and toast at 350 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes. Stir the seeds about every five minutes to prevent burning. As you stir, be sure to scrape the bottom of the cookie sheet, as some of the sugar mixture may stick. Bake until the seeds are slightly caramelized on the outside and completely crisp to the bite.
Store in air tight container, if they last that long. These are incredibly addictive seeds.
Now, I have the rest of this pumpkin flesh to deal with. If anyone has ideas of how to use it, let me know. I'm reluctant to boil and puree it for baked good because it isn't technically a pie pumpkin, so I'm thinking roasting will be the best cooking method. Stay tuned...