10 October 2011

Fall Crunchies: Kicky Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fall already?

I'm trying hard to embrace the truth on the calendar,
I'm not ready.

We haven't gone kayaking yet or seen Shakespeare in the Park.  I keep thinking I have more time!

But I don't.  It's October and time for pumpkin carving and placing my World Series bet.

I thought doing a little roasting might force me into Fall.  Then I thought, if I roast a sugar pie pumpkin I can use the flesh for ice cream (told you I was stubborn) and toast up the seeds too.  A great trial run for my future Jack O' Lantern seeds.

Roasting winter squash of all types is really easy.  You just have to cut them in half, scrape out the seeds (throw them in a sink full of water to clean), rub a little oil over the halves, season with salt and pepper and bake cut-side down on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  When the flesh is soft, it's done.

Did you know the skin of butternut squash is totally edible?  It is.  It becomes chewy when roasted--just like it does with acorn squash.

The hardest part of roasting squash is cutting it in half.  One trick to getting your knife through a pumpkin or squash is to throw the whole thing in a preheated oven for about 5 minutes before trying to cut it.  The heat softens the skin a bit and it's much easier to cut.  Less dangerous too.

Roasting the pumpkin filled the air with an amazing cozy smell.  And one small pumpkin made a whole quart of pumpkin puree for me to use in bread, pie, pasta and even ice cream.  How's that for throwing myself into Fall?  The puree keeps well in the fridge for a week and can be frozen for months.

It wasn't until I started chomping on my Kicky Roasted Pumpkin Seeds that I felt the season change.  Salty, crunchy goodness with a little chipotle kick is what finally did it.

Fine.  It's Fall.  I surrender.

If you need help facing seasonal facts, these little gems can help you too!

Kicky Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 ½ c   pumpkin seeds
1 ½ T   brown sugar
1 t        ground chipotle pepper
2 t        fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ t       kosher salt
½ t       freshly ground black pepper
1 T       unsalted butter, melted

            cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the seeds from a pumpkin and clean in a sink full of water, rubbing the seeds together with your hands under the water to remove the pulp and strings.  Lay the cleaned seeds out on a clean kitchen towel and blot with paper towels or another kitchen towel until dry.

Combine brown sugar, chipotle powder, rosemary, salt & pepper in a small bowl.  In a medium mixing bowl, toss dry seeds with the melted butter to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the seeds to coat. 

Spread the spiced seeds on a sheet pan coated with cooking spray and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Stir seeds with a spatula every 8 to 10 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. 

Be sure to let the seeds cool before serving (or storing).  Store in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

Flavor Variations:
Taste of Fall - substitute 1½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice for the chipotle and rosemary

Herbed - add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce to the butter and add 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme to 1 teaspoon of rosemary.  Omit the chipotle and brown sugar.

Ranch - add a dash of Worcestershire sauce to the butter and substitute half a packet of ranch dressing mix for the sugar, chipotle, rosemary, salt & pepper

Cinnamon Toast - substitute 3 tablespoons of sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon plus ½ teaspoon of nutmeg for the brown sugar, chipotle, rosemary and pepper.   Reduce the salt to ¼ teaspoon.

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