Just popping in briefly with a little recipe for pumpkin seeds.
Since the Camp Fire started it’s been severely smoky with horrible air quality, trapping everyone inside. If it was a rainy week, I wouldn’t mind as rain is one of my favorite things and you can at least go outside to enjoy the rain. But it’s been many days since anyone in the Sacramento Valley/Bay Area has had fresh air, and I am starting to feel the effects of cabin fever. With Hapkido canceled all last week and this week, I’m itching to do something active, breathe deeply and see the sky. Instead, we wait and hope that next week brings better weather and air.
Fortunately, this means that baking is a-okay and I already started to prepping for Thanksgiving over the weekend. I made this pie for a coworker witch my first ever lattice crust with a braid. I made a double batch of pumpkin bread for the much anticipated annual Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread loaves, and a pumpkin pie with the leftover pumpkin puree. Since I had leftover pumpkin pie filling, there will be another one of those tomorrow and lastly this pie for my family’s feast. The biggest challenge will be finding freezer space as I am trying out a new thing where I freeze the pumpkin bread after baking instead of waking up at a ridiculous hour on Thanksgiving morning to bake it. In addition, I am going to freeze the pie I’m making and bake it off the morning of so it is as fresh as possible while still catching as much sleep as I can.
I started by roasting my pumpkin for the pumpkin puree just so it would be ready when I need it. It may seem rather silly to roast your own pumpkin but I like the process and you get seeds! In the process I also realized that the taste of plain pumpkin puree is kind of gross. Pumpkins aren’t sweet like butternut squash—no wonder you have to put a lot of sugar in recipes to make it taste good!
To make seeds in the past, I would just throw washed and dried pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet with olive oil and salt and hope for the best. Sometimes they were good and other times they were too tough and chewy.
I learned about this method of boiling the seeds first from my best foodie friend, Mark, and it results in very addicting, crispy seeds. Along with olive oil and salt, I also topped mine with za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice that is a mixture of salt, sumac, sesame seeds and also sometimes oregano, thyme and hyssop. It has a lemony flavor from the sumac which adds a nice balance with the salt.
Pumpkin seeds are my favorite straight out of the oven when they are their crispiest. I’ll eat them off the tray one by one until I have to force myself to stop.
So if you are roasting a pumpkin for pumpkin treats, don’t forget about the seeds!
Za’atar Pumpkin Seeds
Yields: Seeds from one sugar pie pumpkin
I like the smaller seeds from a sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash. I find that the husk is less tough. If using seeds from a larger pumpkin, you may have to increase the baking time.
Seeds from one sugar pie pumpkin
½-1 teaspoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cut pumpkin in half and remove pulp and seeds and place in a medium bowl. I find that a cookie scoop helps remove the stringy pulp from the pumpkin. Once removed, add water to the bowl of seeds and pulp (this will help separate them). Separate pumpkin pulp from the seeds until only the seeds are left. Drain and place in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Drain again and then dry off on paper towels or a dish towel. It’s okay if they are slightly damp.
Spread seeds on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and za’atar (as much as you desire) and then place the sheet pan in the oven. Try to spread out the pumpkin seeds so they aren’t overlapping. Roast for 10 minutes and then stir. Roast for another 10 minutes. Depending on seed size, they may be ready or they may need more time. I will remove one or two to taste test until they are crispy. If they are too chewy, continue to bake them, checking every few minutes for doneness.
Best straight from the oven.