As a kid, I was always excited about Halloween! I loved to dress up and trick-or-treat with scary-looking friends, but truth be told, candy was not my thing. In fact, my favorite Halloween treat was the pumpkin seeds I could scoop out when carving the Jack-O-Lantern. My mother would roast them for a wonderful snack.
For many years my only experience of pumpkin seeds was at Halloween, but moving to Texas changed that quickly. I soon learned they were called “pepitas” and were popular in many delicious dishes.
It’s probably no surprise that pumpkins are native to North America. But did you know they were part of the native diet for thousands of years? They were especially popular in the Southwest. Every part of the pumpkin was used for food, including the seeds. Like me, the Native Americans could not resist the sweet, subtle flavor of the seeds, and they even used them for medicinal purposes.
When it’s time to carve your Halloween pumpkin, save the seeds to savor! For added flavor, toast shelled seeds in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring (almost) constantly. Watch carefully so they don’t burn! Or, roast the shelled seeds in your oven at 325°F for about 20 to 25 minutes. No time or desire to roast your own? Just pick up pumpkin seeds from our bulk department and you’re good to go.
Although pumpkin seeds make a great, fun snack, they have a lot more versatility. Here are some fun and unique ways you can add pumpkin seeds to your menu:
- Here’s our simple, no-fail recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. And for a spiffed-up version, here’s our recipe for Spicy Tamari Pumpkin Seeds.
- Add them to hot or cold cereal, granola and this Fruit and Hemp Seed Muesli.
- Add them to trail mix.
- Make Pumpkin Seed Pesto.
- Eat them sprinkled over hummus.
- Add them to cookies, cakes, quick breads and muffins.
- Garnish ice cream, yogurt, fresh fruit salads or non-dairy desserts.
- Bake Flax and Pumpkin Seed Corn Bread.
- Incredibly yummy as a garnish on dark chocolate cake or added to decadent brownies.
- Cook whole grain pasta; toss with olive oil, garlic, your favorite cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Garnish salads with roasted pumpkin seeds. This Fall Greens Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Asiago is an ideal salad for the season.
- Garnish grain and legume dishes and salads. You will love our Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing.
- Slow-roast winter squash with pumpkin seeds for a truly Native American feast!
- Stir them into yogurt, cottage cheese, softened cream cheese or ricotta cheese.
- Grind and use for specialty sauces such as Mole like we did in this recipe for Pumpkin Seed Mole with Chicken.
- Garnish roasted root vegetables, steamed vegetables or sautéed vegetables.
- Garnish stew, chili or soups such as corn, pumpkin, butternut squash or vegetable. This popular Guatemalan Chicken Stew with Tomatillo Sauce uses roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Add them to pancakes and waffles.
- Grind them up and make pumpkin seed butter for a great bread or bagel spread.
- Make your own crackers! Here is a wonderful recipe for Three-Seed Rosemary Crackers.
Be sure to store pumpkin seeds in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. They will keep for up to six months, and in the freezer for up to a year. Toasted or roasted seeds should always be kept cold as the oils are more susceptible to rancidity once cooked. If not refrigerated, keep them air-tight and use them within six to eight weeks of purchasing.
Got a recipe or fun idea for pumpkin seeds? I’d love to know!