Tuesday, May 8, 2012
I am completely obsessed with pepitas, or toasted pumpkin seeds. I have to confess, it wasn't until I made the epic kale salad that I actually bothered with making pepitas. I am kicking myself that it took me so long! They are crunchy and salty and nutty- a delicious addition to salads or great for a mid-afternoon nibble.
Now, I'm not going to lie and sing about simple they are to make. However, they're not complicated, they can just be a bit time-consuming. I've found that the biggest obstacle is wrestling the seeds away from the stringy squash innards. Don't worry if you don't manage to get all the squash off, it won't taste bad once they're roasted, it'll just be a slightly different texture.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The general idea with pepitas is to use the seeds from any winter squash or pumpkin rather than throwing them away. When you carve a winter squash open (any variety will work), you inevitably scoop out the seeds which are attached to stringy squash flesh. The usual recipe stops there and the assumption is that these morsels of goodness are tossed in the trash or the compost heap. But wait! Stay your hand! Toss that goopy mess into a colander and start picking all the seeds out! It's not glamorous work. Just get into it and don't let the texture bother you (it always reminds me of the Wright family's haunted house when I was a kid- I know it featured bowls of peeled grapes as eyeballs, and apparently pumpkin seed pulp must have also been involved).
Once you've got the seeds separated, the hard part is over. Just brine them in water for 10 minutes, then roast them in the oven for about 20. The general guidelines I follow can be found at the Kitchn here. The best thing about them? You can toss them with any flavourings you want! So far I've gone with salt and spicy paprika, but I think I might try a churro-inspired cinnamon-sugar version next. Or I could go totally bananas and go with the mix that makes up chamoy, one of the strangest, most addictive Mexican candies: salt, sugar, chili, and lime juice. It won't be quite the same without the tamarind paste, but somehow I think it will work.
Hmm, it looks like I need to make something with squash for dinner so I can get more of those seeds!
How about you- do you ever make pepitas? What's your favorite spice combo? Do you know of a good trick for separating out the seeds? Let us know!