Halloween is prime time for everything pumpkin. Thanksgiving certainly uses its share of pumpkins in pie and other cooking, craft cocktails and as holiday decor, but Halloween has the food, drinks and the frills along with the chills.
Those creepy pumpkin carvings, ice bucket pumpkins and other creations mean piles of pepitas ( from Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza .. “little seeds of squash” ) are scooped into bowls when making them. Don’t let the mess scare you into wasting them though.
Pumpkin seeds are delicious and with minimal effort ( when left in hull ) can be turned into tasty bar snacks and party appetizers. Start by removing the slimy squash strings. Rinsing the pulp in cold water inside a colander along with a little hand picking the fibers will leave just the clean raw seeds.
While you can certainly toast your unhulled pepitas in a skillet to bring out their nutty flavor and add some crunch, there are usually so many that baking in an oven in a thin layer on a cookie sheet works best. If you really have a lot to prepare, the oven roasting method also allows several sheets on the racks at once for a single baked batch.
Oven Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe:
- 2 cups pepitas ( pumpkin or squash seeds )
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients to thoroughly coat and combine. Spread out evenly onto a rimmed cookie sheet and roast in oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from baking pan and let cool. May store the cooked pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for about one week.
This simple cooking method really brings out the natural flavors. To spice things up a little try adding garlic, cumin and/or chili powder ( 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each ) to suit. Although available at stores year round, these home made seasonal snacks are sure to be a crowd favorite at your bar for the holidays.