The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

11:00 PM

Food of the Day - Pepitas

Posted by Truffle Shuffle


Pepitas are most commonly the roasted seeds of the pumpkin (a large orange type of squash with which I am sure everyone is familiar).  The seeds from the pumpkin are encased in a semi-soft white shell, which is also edible.  However, pepitas purchased in a market will usually be hulled, with the white shell removed, and the inner green seed most often roasted (and quite often salted).  In some cases, the seeds of some other types of squash may also use the term pepitas.
 Pumpkin Seeds

Pepitas are highly nutritious, carrying a huge amount of many daily nutrients needed to keep the body healthy.  In addition, pepitas are in constant research in the medical field, being thought to assist in bone health, kidney and prostate health, and even depressive and anxious disorders. 

Pepitas have been used in cooking for many years, particularly in Mexico.  However, today, most supermarkets and specialty food stores will carry the roasted seeds year-round.  While often eaten alone as a snack, they are also commonly used in salad dressings, on salads, in mole sauces (using ground seeds), in breads and other baked products, and in other types of sauces.  The seeds can be used whole, crushed, or ground.

Pumpkin Seed Oil
Pumpkin seeds are also used to make oil, which is used for cooking, in salad dressings, and for medical purposes to promote digestive health, bone health, and cholesterol issues.
Pumpkin Seed Oil

Making Your Own Pumpkin Seeds
I love to make pumpkin seeds, and it has been a tradition for years, in my family, to make them on Halloween (since we already have pumpkins carved, and thus have seeds available).  While you can do this with store-bought seeds, for the best results, use fresh seeds that you have removed from a pumpkin yourself, as the texture is far superior to dry seeds.
Open a pumpkin, and clear out the insides.  Remove the orange flesh from the seeds, and separate the seeds into a bowl.  Be very careful to make sure that you remove all of the pumpkin flesh from the seeds before you roast them, so as not to contaminate the flavor of the seeds.
Once all of the seeds are washed thoroughly, and all of the residual pumpkin removed, pat the seeds dry, or let them sit out until thoroughly dry. 
Take a large cookie sheet, and brush it lightly with oil (something light and mild such as vegetable or safflower oil will do nicely).  Next, place the seeds on the sheet, spreading them out as evenly as possible; try not to have seeds overlapping.  Sprinkle more oil over the seeds, and place the pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.  Bake the seeds, turning and mixing them every few minutes, until the seeds start to brown nicely on both sides (you can bake the seeds to your preference, but I prefer a darker seeds to a golden brown seed).  Be very careful not to overcook the seeds and let them burn, as this will ruin the flavor, and they will be useless.
 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Once the seeds are baked to your liking, take the pan out, and generously sprinkle both sides of the seeds with coarse sea salt.  Let the seeds cool a bit, then enjoy!  These make a wonderful, tasty snack.

Note: try taking store-bought roasted pepitas (three green kind you buy in a bag) and tossing them on your favorite salad.  They will create a great crunchy contrasting texture, as well as a delicious, nutty flavor (in my opinion, these go really well with Mexican cilantro dressings).

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