Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Perfectly Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Every year I toast the pumpkin seeds from our jack-o-lantern. And every year I don't like the way they turn out- usually burnt. Until this year! I present to you my process, arrived at through much trial and error, for:

Perfectly Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

What you need:
rimmed metal baking sheet or pan
seeds from 1 pumpkin (probably somewhere between 1 and 2 cups)
olive oil

Here's what I did:

1. I did not bother to rinse my pumpkin seeds. I just picked out the really big pieces and left most of the little stringy stuff. As someone else suggested, a little pumpkin goo never hurt anybody, and adds even more flavor. It dries up when you bake the seeds.

2. I read somewhere that it would be a good idea to spread out the seeds in a single layer to dry overnight. So I did. This seemed preferable to boiling the seeds in salty water prior to baking, as another website suggested. Both methods claim to make them easier to eat if you plan to eat the entire seed rather than cracking it open to get just the tender kernel inside.  I really don't think I'd go to all this trouble for a few tiny morsels.

3. When you're ready to roast, toss the seeds with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil (in my failed attempts I used regular vegetable oil) and salt to taste.

4. Place on a greased rimmed metal baking sheet or pan in a single layer.

5. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and bake until the seeds are lightly browned and fragrant.

For how long, you ask? 
I think this is the important part:

6. Depended on how many seeds you're toasting, how thick or thin your seeds are, how dark your baking pan is, how well your oven is calibrated, how much oil you used, and Lord knows how many other factors, this will probably take between 10 and 30 minutes (some say up to 45). I wouldn't believe any recipe or chef who presumes to give you an exact time. Mine took 20 minutes. About half-way through I took them out, shook the pan, and tasted one to check their progress. When they're done: they smell delicious, appear nicely browned, and taste crispy but are easy to bite into and chew. Sort of like an APGAR score for pumpkin seeds!

I think you can store these in an airtight container for about a week, but you won't need to!

And just to prove I'm a gourmet, the wine pairing for Perfectly Toasted Pumpkin Seeds is Lucky Duck Riesling ($3 a bottle at WalMart).


Sandy didn't mess with us much here in the New River Valley, but it's just not right to wake up to snow on the day before Halloween!

Snow on the ground, leaves still on the trees... What the...?

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