The moment October 1st comes around, my kitchen instantly switches from late summer tomatoes and oven-less cooking to roasting autumn squashes and getting ready for holiday season. For us that means Indian holidays like Diwali and Navratri, but also one of our family favorites: Halloween!
We carve our pumpkins a week before Halloween at our annual pumpkin-carving block party, after which we are left with handfuls of raw white pumpkin seeds. I hate to discard them every year; pumpkin seeds are nutritious! The creamy white seeds are the unhulled pumpkin seed and the olive green kernel inside is the hulled pumpkin seed, also known is pepitas. The pepitas have a buttery delicate taste and are lovely roasted and seasoned simply; they’re a great addition to a green salad. The unhulled white pumpkin seeds are crunchier and coarser but when roasted and seasoned are tasty, on their own or in a trail mix.
The nutritional content of both and the difference between the two is listed below:
- more zinc in the unhulled white seeds vs the pepitas
- Vitamin E in both
- roasting no longer than 20 minutes retains most of the nutritional value in the seeds
- rich in manganese, a mineral antioxidant, in addition to phosphorus and magnesium
- diversity of other non-traditional antioxidants, like different forms of Vitamin E
- healthy unsaturated fats, like MUFAs, though composition changes if roasting seeds too long (see above)
- good source of protein (1/4 cup has 10 grams protein!) and some iron too
Looking for a variation yesterday on roasting pumpkin seeds, I got inspired by 101 Cookbooks on using ground tea as a seasoning for them. I played around with the recipe a few times; here’s a log of my experiment:
- What I ended up doing since I was making them for my li’l kids is leaving out the chai (tea) leaves and just using the chai masala (spice blend).
- I also experimented with ghee rather than oil as my roasting fat, but I decided that the rich concentration of that butterfat wasn’t worth it in this particular dish. I think I’d be happy with butter. If you’re in India and reading this, I’m sure you’ll have ghee more readily accessible than butter, and if you’re here in the U.S. and don’t have ghee lying around, you can use butter or olive oil for increased nutritional benefit.
- I followed the pre-boiling method for the seeds that is described in Simply Recipes blog post, but only because I had time to let the water boil while I played Legos with the girls. You could skip the boiling and still have crunchy crispy pumpkin seeds if time is a concern. My recipe does not include the pre-boiling. To see that method, click here.
Regarding the chai masala (masala meaning a blend of spices, dry or wet), I use a blend from India and when I run out, I use a store-bought blend as long as it’s fragrant and fresh. If the scent of the masala is not extremely strong (it should make your children sneeze), try grinding your own, like Rabbit Food Rocks does. When I have a little extra time, I love to use my mortar/pestle duo and crush my own as well.
Serving size: 3-4 kids as a snack
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed in a strainer several times to remove pumpkin goop
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted OR 2 teaspoons ghee, softened
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon chai masala (recipe again, right here)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground Assam or English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- If you have time, you can lay out the seeds on a paper towel to air-dry or towel dry them.
- Place seeds in a medium-sized bowl.
- Stir in the butter or ghee, coating the seeds well. I use my hands for this, but then again, I’m Indian 😉
- Scatter seeds in a thin layer so the seeds are not overlapping on a cookie sheet (does not have to be lined).
- Sprinkle chai masala over seeds.
- Sprinkle sugar over seeds.
- Sprinkle salt over seeds.
- I know you feel the urge to stir, but no need to just yet.
- Roast in oven for 10 minutes.
- Now stir and try to scatter them again in a thin layer.
- Continue roasting for another 5-10 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning.
- Sprinkle a dash more salt and sugar and add more to taste. Sprinkle ground tea if using and gently stir. Serve!