Every year we look forward to carving jack o’ lanterns for Halloween.. and somehow every year, we forget what a pain it is to clean out all the pumpkins. But at least there’s one very tasty upside to all of that manual labor – roasted pumpkin seeds!
My sister has been dying to throw a big Halloween party for several years now, but something has always come up last minute & we were never able to make it happen. Now, if you knew my sister, you’d know she has more than just a penchant for decorating. It’s a full-on obsession. I mean, we have boxes & boxes of crazy Halloween decor hanging out in the garage just waiting for their moment in the spotlight. Well, this year it’s finally go-time… our party is tomorrow night! With the rest of the decor ready to go, all we needed were some jack o’ lanterns.
With promises of wine & pizza, we bribed a few of our girlfriends to come over and help with the pumpkin carving extravaganza. Close to a dozen pumpkins later, we had an insane amount of pumpkin seeds waiting to be roasted. Which got me thinking.. as much as I love my usual recipe, why not take advantage of the situation and try a few new ones?
First up was my old standby, Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds. I found the recipe several years ago on Martha Stewart’s website- I swear that lady can do no wrong. The recipe is fantastic as written, but even better with a little nutmeg and ground cloves added to the mix. And when it says a pinch of cayenne, I make it a big one. They have a great balance of flavors- a little smokiness from the cumin, warmth from the combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves, all rounded out with sugar & a spicy kick of cayenne. Perfect!
Next was a variation on Martha’s recipe that I found on Food.com: Pumpkin Pie Seeds. They actually really good, but still a far cry from the Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds. They just seemed a bit boring in comparison.
Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup pumpkin seeds
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg, to taste
1 ½ tablepoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 250º. Spread the pumpkin seeds in a even layer on a rimmed baking sheet & roast for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, heat the vegetable oil & then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar evenly in the skillet. When the sugar begins to melt, add the pumpkin seeds & toss to coat in the caramelized sugar mixture. Immediately transfer the pumpkin seeds to a large bowl & toss with the remaining sugar & spices. Let cool & enjoy.
For my first foray into the savory side, I went with a recipe found on Allrecipes.com: Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. The recipe calls for roasting the seeds in a mixture of butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt & garlic salt. Thanks to my family’s obsession with Party Mix, I was sure this similar flavor combo would be the clear winner, but somehow it came in dead last. Now don’t get me wrong. They were good pumpkin seeds, but I think the flavor just made us crave party mix instead.
Now for the grand prize, award-winning, best pumpkin seed recipe of them all… Rosemary-Garlic Pumpkin Seeds. They were so stinkin good! I wish I’d paid better attention to amounts when I threw the spice blend together, but like an idiot, I didn’t. And now, what if I can never make this perfect blend of pumpkin seed deliciousness ever again?! Alright, alright, so that might be a bit dramatic, but they really are that good.
Rosemary-Garlic Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 275º. Toss the pumpkin seeds with olive oil and the spices. Spread the pumpkin seeds in a even layer on a rimmed baking sheet & roast for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool & scarf them down.
All those pumpkin seeds must’ve smelled pretty good baking, because this little beggar followed me around all day…