Karl and I bought a pumpkin before Halloween. We had grandiose plans to make pumpkin wine by scooping out the insides, rubbing sugar all over the flesh, sealing it back up with wax, then letting it naturally ferment for a few weeks. Apparently, you get pumpkin wine out of all this, and it would have been a fun experiment, but our lives got busy, and the pumpkin sat out on my fire escape for about a month before I remembered it existed. C'est la vie!
Last weekend, I determined to cut up and roast the pumpkin, then freeze for a rainy day (I'm thinking soups and stews rather than pies, as our pumpkin was quite large. The smaller ones are better for pies, or so they say). And so I did.
One of the best things about pumpkins are the seeds. I think a lot of people just throw them away when they make their jack'o'lanterns for Halloween, but when I was growing up we always dried them out and roasted them in the oven with a little bit of salt. What a tasty snack! It's relatively health, though a little higher-calorie than I would have thought. According to NutritionData.com, 1 cup of pumpkin seeds (without salt) is 285 calories, with 2 grams of saturated fat. NutritionData also touts pumpkin seeds as a good source of protein, magnesium, and zinc.
When you scoop the seeds out of a pumpkin, they're usually covered with the stringy, slimy innards of the pumpkin (which you probably will want to discard). I simply put all the seeds in a colander and spray them with water until the stringy bits are detached from the seeds. You will probably have to pick through to get the last few stringy bits, but it's not difficult or time-consuming. Since my pumpkin was a little older, there were also some seeds that had sprouted. I discarded those, although, in retrospect, they might have tasted interesting...next time!
I spiced up my pumpkin seeds with Spanish paprika and Hot Curry Powder (Penzey's Spices), but you could simply use salt (classic), or be even more adventurous and use a blend of spices (e.g., cumin, cardamom, coriander, chile powder, etc.). Anything goes!
Roasted and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried completely
1 TBSP margarine, butter, or oil
1/2 tsp salt, or more or less to taste
1/2 TBSP spices of choice (e.g., Spanish Paprika, Hot Curry Powder)
Preheat oven to 300˚F.
Melt the margarine or butter, if using, and pour into a small bowl. Mix in the salt and spices until well blended. Stir in the pumpkin seeds, tossing until well coated.
Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake 30-45 minutes, or until well toasted. You should give them a stir every 10-15 minutes or so to make sure they aren't burning.
Allow to cool before eating.