I was under the impression that the labour required to roast pumpkin seeds outweighed any taste or nutritional benefits. But I was wrong. If done right roasted pumpkin seeds are an incredibly nutritious, crunchy and nutty flavoured snack that (like peanuts) has to be eaten by the handful for full flavour appreciation. You must eat them hot for their full crunch but I doubt they will last long enough to cool down…
To sell you on the nutritional benefits of why to eat pumpkin seeds here are some facts from the BBC’s Good Food India magazine: a valuable source of high quality protein, anti-oxidants such as omega 3 ‘good fats’, zinc, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, manganese all great for building immunity and providing energy to the body for very little calories; and tryptophan which is supposed to improve your mood and help you sleep.
Preparation for roasting:
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Centigrade.
2. The white pumpkin seeds come enmeshed in a fibourous web of orange pumpkin fibres which you must entangle. Admittedly the most cumbersome part of the process, getting these seeds out from their cocoon is a task best done with fingers. They do look quite pretty – strung together like a bracelet I’d imagine Masai women might fashion.
3. Once you get all the fibres off and I do mean ALL – even from the pointy ends or they will burn and make a mess of the whole thing- place the seeds in a seive and rinse thoroughly under running water. Can’t stress how important this annoying yet necessary step is.
4. Once that’s done, place the seeds in a medium sized saucepan of salted water (1 tsp), bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes.This step makes them much crunchier when you roast them.
5. Drain the hot water and place the seeds on a tea towel to pat them dry. They will tend to stick to the tea towel but just peel them off. You don’t have to get them super dry or anything.
6. Place on a baking tray, drizzle about 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp olive oil and really massage the oil in. Then sprinkle generous amount of salt and spread them out trying to prevent them from overlapping.
7. Put the seeds in to a pre-heated oven for 1o minutes.Remove from the open, stir around for a bit and roast for another 5-8 mins.
Here comes the tricky part: Do not expect the seeds to turn brown. In fact if they do then you’ve probably burnt the inside to charcoal hell as the insides cook much faster than the shell. So watch them carefully – if they start to pop, take them out immediately.
Break open one to test if it’s burnt or it. If not, then sprinkle with some more salt. I like to add chilli powder or dried oregano or thyme
If they cool down they tend to loose their crunch.
Eat hot by the handful. Once you try this – you’ll never be throwing out those pumpkin seeds again (and if you do, you’ll feel real guilty about it)