Photo credit by Food Thinkers
Pumpkin seeds are a tasty, healthy snack. Packed with antioxidants, fiber, and protein, they can be prepared several different ways.
Unless you've bought some raw pumpkin seeds, you'll need to know how to prepare what you've scooped out of the pumpkin. After separating the seeds from the pulp, rinse them well, spread them out on paper towels, and pat them dry. They will then need to dry thoroughly overnight.
After the seeds have dried completely, transfer them to a nonstick baking sheet. If you prefer, line the baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil before transferring the seeds.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Some recipes call for preheating to as high as 350; only do this if you're comfortable with the higher temperature. Otherwise, it's best to experiment at the lower temperature at first, since pumpkin seeds tend to burn easily. It will take longer to cook them, but a lower temperature and close monitoring will reduce the risk of burning.
Coat the seeds with nonstick spray or cooking oil such as canola or olive oil. If you'd like them plain, you're ready to toast them. Otherwise, you can season them now. Think of the seasonings you enjoy on nuts, and the same flavors will likely work with pumpkin seeds. Salt is the most common way to season pumpkin seeds, but there are many other ways to enhance the flavor. Savory seasonings include garlic powder, red pepper, popcorn seasoning, and chili powder. If you'd prefer something sweeter, consider using cocoa powder, allspice, brown sugar, or cinnamon. Alternatively, you can wait and add the seasoning after they come out of the oven.
When the oven is ready, insert the baking sheet. If you're cooking the seeds at 175 degrees, check them after 10 minutes, as it may be time to turn them. Check them sooner if you're using a higher temperature. The seeds should cook and brown evenly on both sides.
If you'd prefer not to heat up the house, try toasting the pumpkin seeds in a skillet instead of the oven. Place the dry seeds in a frying pan with a little cooking oil over medium heat. You can add the seasonings now or after they've been toasted. Monitor the pumpkin seeds closely and turn as necessary to prevent burning. Make sure that the seeds brown on both sides. When they are ready, remove them from the heat and spread them out on baking sheets to cool. Leave enough room to stir and turn them when you add the desired seasoning.
You can also cook pumpkin seeds in the microwave. Pour the clean, dry seeds into a microwave-safe dish along with enough cooking oil to coat them. Stir, season them to your liking, and stir again. Cook them on high for two minutes, stir, and repeat every two minutes until done, which will be about 8 minutes.
Don't be afraid to make a large batch; according to Martha Stewart, cooked pumpkin seeds can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. The next time you're in the mood for a tasty, healthy snack, thaw some out and enjoy.