Instead of tossing the seeds of your Halloween jack o’ lantern, transform them into a fragrant, flavorful roasted snack or a significant part of a mouthwatering meal. Roasted pumpkin seeds are quick and easy to make and deliciously versatile in the kitchen. Read on to learn the health benefits of these autumn treats and the many ways you can include them in your every day dishes.
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds
Also referred to as pepitas, pumpkin seeds – like other nuts and seeds – pack a healthy punch.
In addition to being a good source of phosphorous, magnesium and manganese, these chewy little seeds supply zinc, iron, copper, tryptophan and vitamin K. Pumpkin seeds are also a tasty source of protein, with over 8 grams per quarter-cup serving.
One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds provides 185 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 15 grams of total fat, most of which is mono- and polyunsaturated “good for you” fats.
Further, research suggests that pumpkin seeds have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in phytosterols, which have been associated with lower cholesterol and heart-health.
The many delicious uses of pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds or pepitas are available packaged all year round. But freshly roasted pumpkin seeds are fitting for fall and so much more flavorful.
Here are some scrumptious ways to serve roasted pumpkin seeds:
- Eat as a mid-afternoon snack
- Sprinkle on pancakes, waffles, or cereal
- Blend into muffin or quickbread batter
- Toss with nuts and dried fruit for a tasty trail mix
- Puree with fresh herbs and beans for a healthy spread or dip
- Crush, blend with breadcrumbs and use a breading for fish or chicken
- Add to salads for crunch and flavor
- Toss with pasta, rice or other whole grains
- Crush and add to ground meat for burgers or meatballs
- Add to stir-fries or a vegetable saute
- Substitute pumpkin seeds for peanuts and make pumpkin seed brittle
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Makes 1 to 1-1/2 cups
Roasting pumpkin seeds for a short time – as compared to long, slow roasting – will better preserve their healthful benefits. Use this basic recipe as a starting point for your autumn pumpkin seed snacking. The next time you make them, spice them up with cayenne, black pepper, coriander, cumin, cinnamon or even pumpkin pie spice.
- Pumpkin seeds freshly scooped from a medium-sized pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse pulp from seeds by rinsing seeds in a strainer. Spread pumpkin seeds on paper towels and pat dry. Place seeds in a bowl and toss with oil and salt.
- Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, shaking baking sheet to move seeds around after 7 minutes. Seeds are done when they are fragrant, crisp and light golden in color – be sure not to scorch. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Makes about 1 1/4 cup
An autumn variation on traditional pesto, this pumpkin seed recipe makes a tantalizing spread for party toasts or superb sauce to toss with pasta and lightly cooked vegetables. Puree with softened cream cheese to make a dynamite dip or to slather on sandwiches.
- 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- Juice of a lime
- 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin or olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Water, as needed
- Place all ingredients except water in a food processor or blender.
- Blend until a thin paste forms, adding a bit of water at a time, if necessary to thin to desired consistency.
Fettuccini with Browned Butter Pumpkin Seed Sauce
The sumptuous flavor of browned butter and crunch of roasted pumpkin seeds are a perfect contrast for the toothsome fettuccini in this hearty dish. Substitute different shapes of pasta for a change – and try the recipe with toasted pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts when you run out of pumpkin seeds.
- 6 ounces whole wheat fettuccini, cooked according to package directions
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. As soon as the butter foams and turns a light golden color, remove from heat and stir in pumpkin seeds and sage.
- Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
- Drain pasta in a colander and return to pot. Pour browned butter sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper again. Divide pasta among four serving plates and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.