by Julie Snyder
If you're planning to pick up a pumpkin or two and do some carving this fall -- and who isn't-- don't forget about the "bonus" snack built into every pumpkin. Baked pumpkin seeds make a crunchy, tasty snack.
Get the kids involved and be sure to have the camera on hand! Pumpkin insides have an unforgettable texture.
Think of the opportunity for memories. They'll talk about the ewwwy, gooey slime for years to come.
There's one more thing they'll remembering -- how good pumpkin seeds taste! "When I was little, we'd carve pumpkins and then roast the seeds...yum! Awesomest school snack ever!"
What are you waiting for? Cook up a batch baked pumpkin seeds while you're carving your masterpieces!
Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour | Yield: 16 servings
• Seeds from a medium-sized pumpkin (seeds from a sugar pumpkin work best)
• 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a large bowl, add water to the pulp and seeds. The unattached seeds will float to the top. Scoop these off with your hands or a soup strainer. Massage the pulp to release the rest of the seeds and strain those off.
In a small saucepan, combine about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of water or more if you like your seeds saltier. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Don't worry if there's a little pulp left on the seeds; it only adds flavor.
If you'd like to experiment with additional flavors (see cook's note), add those now and stir well.
Coat the bottom of a large baking sheet with the olive oil. With your fingers, spread the seeds over the sheet in one layer. Swirl the seeds around so both sides are coated in oil. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 10 to 20 minutes. From this point on, stir occasionally and check frequently and remove from the oven when browned to your satisfaction.
Cool on a rack. Eat immediately or leave in a bowl on the counter.
Are you ready to get more creative with your seed seasonings? Here are ways you can spice up those pumpkin seeds!
Orange-ginger zest: Stir in 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, and up to 2 tablespoon sugar for every 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
Cheesy roast: Toss together 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.
Cinnamon-sugar: In the bowl, coat pumpkin seeds with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter (you won't need to grease the baking sheet), 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.
Sweet-hot spice: Season 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds with 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 tablespoon agave nectar or other sweetener.
Chili lime: Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds with 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest and 1 tablespoon lime juice.
Smoky-hot: Add 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the pumpkin seeds.
Are there any flavorings you tried and loved?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.