Thanksgiving looms around the corner, and the holiday festivities eagerly await their turn to replace autumnal leaves with mistletoe, apple picking with snowball fights. If you’re anything like me, you’ll miss the abundance of fall recipes that late November will bid farewell. But there’s no need to say goodbye yet — as long as you bought pumpkins for decoration and have an hour to spare, you already have the key ingredient for many last-minute fall treats.
The great thing about a pumpkin is that it represents endless possibilities. The seeds, the pith — the orange mesh you find with the seeds — and the sides are all usable. One of my favorite uses for a pumpkin are homemade pumpkin seeds. They are easy to make, and they can be the perfect snack for exam cramming.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 - 30 minutes
One medium or large pumpkin
For sweet pumpkin seeds, recommended spices: a few teaspoons of cinnamon, pumpkin spice
For savory pumpkin seeds, recommended spices: a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper, garlic salt
Oil — canola, vegetable or coconut
There are a few simple steps to follow before you start baking anything. First, carve open the top of your pumpkin the same way you would when making a jack-o-lantern. The classic, big pumpkins work best for baking, but if you have a slightly smaller one, it will also work. After cutting it open, use a spoon — one with a serrated edge is easiest — to scoop out the seeds and pith into a bowl.
Next comes the time-consuming bit. You’ll need to separate the pith and seeds into two bowls. The best way to do it is with your hands — it’s slimy, but it will be worth it. After you’ve separated the two, wash the seeds off so they don’t have any traces of orange on them, and dry them off. Spread them out on a baking sheet with a paper towel.
After your seeds have dried, it’s time to season. You’ll need a couple teaspoons of oil and any seasoning combination you want. My personal favorite is a mix of two teaspoons of maple syrup and two teaspoons of salt. You can amp up the fall vibes with a teaspoon of cinnamon and pumpkin spice. If you’re into salty snacks, two teaspoons of garlic salt or two teaspoons salt and a healthy pinch of cayenne pepper work well too.
Move your seeds back into a bowl, and toss your spices, pumpkin seeds and oil together. Once you’re satisfied, spread them out on a new baking sheet, trying not to let the pumpkin seeds overlap too much. Bake them in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes and keep a careful eye on them after 20 minutes. Be careful because pumpkin seeds can burn quickly.
Hopefully you’ll feel comforting fall vibes as you snack on these pumpkin seeds — even while you’re buried in homework at Clem.