Thursday, November 11, 2010


I can’t believe that at the ripe old age of 33, I’m still learning mind-blowing new facts such as this: It’s possible to roast the seeds of any winter squash as you do with pumpkin seeds. Really! I weep to think of all the squash seeds I’ve thoughtlessly discarded over the years when I could have been crunching on a delicious salty snack instead.

When I was a kid, my mom would always roast the seeds from our Halloween pumpkins, and now I get a visceral sense of nostalgia every time I eat them. But I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had them as an adult. I’ve never been a pumpkin eater, and we don’t really carve jack-o-lanterns—I’m not that artsy or good with knives, and they always seem to rot spectacularly on the patio before Halloween even arrives. The few times I’ve tried to roast pumpkin seeds, they haven’t tasted as good as mom’s. But as soon as I learned this amazing fact about squash seeds (from an offhand mention at Smitten Kitchen), I consulted Simply Recipes for instructions, roasted some butternut squash seeds, and bingo! Just as good as I remembered. The secret is brining the seeds in salt water; the salt permeates the whole seed instead of sticking to the outside or (as often as not) falling off on the pan or in your hand.

Unless you’ve got a number of squash, the yield is going to be fairly small. I’ve roasted butternut squash seeds twice now and have gotten between ¼ and ½ cup each time. But this recipe is easily scalable to any quantity, so even if you’ve just got one little squash you’re going to turn into soup or serve on pasta or pizza, save the seeds! A negligible amount of labor will soon turn them into a couple of handfuls of tasty munchies.

Winter squash, such as butternut, pumpkin, or acorn
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut open the squash and use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy core. Rinse the seeds in a colander.

3. In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds. Add 1½ teaspoons of salt for every cup of water (more if you like your seeds saltier). Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

4, Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a baking sheet. Spread the seeds out over the baking sheet, all in one layer. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 10–20 minutes. (For smaller seeds, such as butternut or acorn, go with 10 minutes and keep a close eye on them; they’re usually done when they begin popping.) When seeds are toasted to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack.

Serves: Variable
Time: 30–40 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. The seeds will lose their crispness if you store them in a sealed container, but you can keep them in an open bowl on the counter for a day or two.

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