Also called pepitas, I remember looking forward to these little guys after carving pumpkins as a kid. It’s super easy to roast them, and there are about a million ways to do it. My mom always used to toss them Worcester sauce and some salt, and man oh man were those the best.
This time, I decided to branch out a little from the straight up salty avenue. Don’t get me wrong, classic is well, classically delicious, but I wanted a little more of an adventure. A little bit of Google searching led me to an blog entry with 3 different ways to roast the seeds. I chose the Sweet ‘n’ Spicy and Curried recipes [though the third, Black Tea and Butter sounded pretty interesting, too]. And I almost followed all of the directions.
Before we get to the recipe, can I just write about the highlight of my day for a second? Puffy coats on little waddling kindergarteners are hilarious. A kindergarten kiddo in the classroom I work in always struggles with putting his marshmallowy winter coat on, and we’ve been practicing putting it on by laying it on the floor, standing at the collar, stickin’ his arms in and flipping it up and over his head. Today, the little dude did it by himself TWICE. The look on his face when he succeeds is this excited shock that he put his coat on without a struggle. I was so pumped and had this huge grin on my face, to which he responded by giving me a big ol’ bear hug. I about melted from cute overload.
H’ok, back to the food.
- 1 c. pumpkin seeds
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 c. natural cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper [yaaaaay!]
- scant 1/2 tsp. sea salt, finely ground [I think regular ol’ salt would do just fine, too]
“Preheat oven to 375. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg white, sugar, cayenne and salt.
Add the pumpkin seeds and toss well. Drain off any excess egg white (using a strainer) and place seeds in a single layer across a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until seeds are golden. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and cayenne pepper when they come out of the oven. Taste and season with more salt if needed.” [Original recipe]
I thought the oven temperature was a little high compared to when I’d roasted pumpkin seeds before, so I started at 300 F. The seeds on the pan looked super gooey and gross, like they were just going to sit there and stay soggy to spite me. So after two 4 minute intervals with some turning in between, I bumped the heat up to what the recipe called for and kept my fingers crossed.
OH. MY. GOD. They turned out to be perfect after two more 4 minute intervals at 375 F. They crisped up with this really beautiful gloss from the egg white coating combined with the caramelization of the cane sugar. The heat from the cayenne kicks in like a sassy little aftertaste is supposed to. I forgot to sprinkle with more cayenne and sugar at the end like the recipe calls for, but I couldn’t stop eating them. Neither could my family. OM. NOM. NOM.
- 1 c. pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- scant 1/2 tsp. sea salt, finely ground
The recipe called for egg whites again, but because I’d never coated pumpkin seeds with egg whites before, I wanted to do a batch in a way I knew would succeed [so much for adventuring, but I wasn’t about to risk all the seeds I worked so hard to separate from pumpkin guts]. These guys were the reason I started the heat at 300 F, because they started out dry and I thought that anything higher would burn the outsides too quickly. I roasted them together with the Sweet ‘n’ Spicy guys, even when I turned the heat up to 375 F. In hindsight, I would have just done them on their own before roasting the egg white-coated seeds that call for a high temperature. I think they’d only take about 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees, and not have gotten a little on the dark side like they did. Make sure you stir them up every now and then during baking to make sure they roast evenly.
Holy moly, do I love everything about pumpkins.
Some take home lessons here:
- Dry pumpkin seeds tossed in oil cook way faster than fresh seeds that are still moist (I think). Do the dry dudes at a lower temp at, oh, maybe around 275-325 F? Let me know if you know/discover otherwise, please!
- Egg whites make friggin’ awesome coating for roasted stuff. Despite how they make pumpkin seeds look clumpy and disgusting at first, the outcome is glossy and crispaaaay.
- Don’t forget about the other squashes! Seeds from acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squashes roast up just the same.