Ever wonder what to do with pumpkin seeds leftover from Halloween jack-o-lanterns and fresh made pumpkin pies? What about the squash seeds from autumn’s bounty of butternut and acorn squash? Well Jackie of The Vegan Diet has you covered. She shares the virtues of those seeds and some wonderful recipes.
First things first, don’t toss those seeds! After removing the stringy bits from the seeds (I do this in a bowl of water; the seeds float to the top!), rinse them and pat dry. Your seeds are now ready for some recipes!
If you aren’t carving a pumpkin or roasting a squash, but still want the benefits and crunchy taste of pumpkin seeds, they are available in bulk and packages from natural food stores and even many mainstream grocers.
As a primer, Jackie has a few quick notes on why you should enjoy the seeds just as much as the squash flesh:
They contain a plant hormone which is proving to be excellent, if eaten regularly, in the prevention of prostate cancer and the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Pumpkin seeds are also said to reduce cholesterol and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Pumpkin seeds are a great addition to trail mix, can be scattered on salads for a flavorful crunch, add earthiness when baked into bread, and make a natural granola pairing. Beyond these simple options, Jackie shared with us three of her favorite vegan recipes for using pumpkin seeds and squash seeds (all of which happen to be vegan, gluten-free, and free of the top eight allergens!):
Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Linda Larsen, at About.com
Place the pumpkin seeds on an ungreased cookie sheet. Mix together the margarine and Tabasco sauce and drizzle over the seeds. Combine the spices and sprinkle over the coated seeds. Toss well to coat. Bake at 300ºF/150ºC for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp, stirring the seeds after about 20 minutes. Store in airtight container. Yields about 2 cups.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
From WNPT Volunteer Gardener
Over low heat, dry-roast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until they finish popping. Remove from heat and cool. In a blender, process seeds, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt. Slowly add oil and broth and blend until smooth. Toss into hot pasta and serve immediately or transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until needed. Yields about 1-1/2 cups.
Sugar & Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Diana Rattray, at About.com
Toss seeds with the oil, sugar, and spices. Preheat your oven to 300ºF/150ºC. Spread the coated seeds on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake the seeds for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until nicely browned and crunchy, checking in to give them a stir every 15 minutes. Yields about 1 cup.