homemade pumpkin seeds -
the delicious byproduct of a carved pumpkin
The latter are probably my favorite (despite having a professed weakness for almond joy and three musketeer bars) because they are something that not only conjure spooky Halloween memories, but also the flavors of Mexico. (image credit)
Pumpkin seeds or "pepitas" are an unofficial national snack in Mexico**. As a child I was known to constantly carry a bag of them in my backpack, snacking on them secretly during class, recess or after school. You can buy them in tiny home-made bags on any corner in Mexico City, perfectly toasted and heavily salted. Maybe it's the salt I crave more than the actual seeds, or maybe it's the special un-shelling technique I developed over time (look mom, no hands!) that I take so much joy in, but either way, there's something about "pepitas" that still inspires childish glee in me.
Here is my recipe so you too can enjoy pumpkin seeds with a kick. It's not Mexican, but it sure is Halloween for me.
Las Pepitas de Brenda
(Brenda's Pumpkin Seeds)
Serves 4 mere mortals
but only 2 greedy-pepita-eating-monsters
You can eat them whole or peel the shell off (after you suck all the tastiness off of it, of course). Feel free to adjust spices to your liking. I love sour, spicy things - you've been warned. Amazingly, these seeds are probably the healthiest thing you'll eat the whole 31st. :)
Pumpkin seeds from 1 large pumpkin
1 tbsp salt
2 tsps paprika (or cayenne pepper if you're brave :) ), plus extra for sprinkling
1 lemon (not lime, mom!), juiced
a sprinkle of pepper (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 375F / 175C. Once you have removed the seeds from inside the pumpkin, put them in a bowl and rinse them thoroughly with cold water until all the pumpkin membranes come off.
2. Pat the seeds dry with paper towels and transfer to a small bowl. Add all the ingredients and mix until all seeds are thoroughly coated.
3. Transfer the seeds to a cookie sheet lined with foil. Make sure the seeds are in a single layer and not overlapping each other. Sprinkle with extra paprika for more color.
4. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until dry and toasty. The seeds should be somewhat crunchy. Allow them to cool and transfer to an air-tight container for storage or eat immediately!
**Not to be confused with Argentinian "pepitas" which are cookies, Pepitas are also used in widely in Mexican cooking in dishes such as Pipian, or Papadzul, and they are used to make a variety of desserts as well as ground up to thicken or make sauces or garnish dishes.