Pumpkins. They are EVERYWHERE. And pumpkin recipes are flooding the internet daily since the end of summer. In fact summer was still dwindling when the pumpkin craze started to show its orange head. Too soon, too soon! For me at least. I have found myself thinking ‘oh god, yet another pumpkin [insert pie/muffins/pie/pie/pie…] recipe‘. Which is not to say that some of them didn’t looked delicious and/or interesting.
The thing is, I am not in love with pumpkins….
You WHAT?! I hear you say, appalled, probably thinking it’s a typo, that no one in their right mind would ever say such a ridiculous thing. How can one NOT love pumpkin? Quite easily I might say.
Alright, it’s nice, it can be sweet and soft and yes it tastes good. But it’s not amazing. It’s not oh my god this is the most awesome thing ever and I could eat it, drink it and bathe in it every day! . And I could say that for many things, like chocolate (duh), lamb (yup) or cheese (although I would be forced to live the life of a recluse, no one would come close to me. Except my husband, who tells me he wouldn’t mind…ah love – for cheese or me that is unclear).
Having said all that, pumpkins have one thing that I LOVE.
Pumpkin seeds are soooooooooooooo delicious. And when best to use them up as when you are getting ready for some Halloween pumpkin carving fun and you have all of those seeds sat there, waiting to become an utterly moorish snack? I agree that the smaller the seeds the nicer it is, certainly if you eat the whole thing like I do, without removing the shells. But I was not going to waste the big ones we got with our carving pumpkins, as I still enjoy them. I have a smaller pumpkin in our vegetable hamper so I will be roasting its seeds later on when we get to use it.
So having carved our pumpkins late on Sunday night, I had masses of seeds to roast, which I set about doing straight away. This isn’t so much a recipe as a guide. Seasoning is, I find, very personal. And I am not shy when it comes to seasoning, although I am trying to put the breaks on my salt intake. Salt is bad. But it’s so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuud.
You could of course, simply season your seeds with some salt and they would be really good. OR, you could put some Za’Atar on them. And bring them to the ‘oh my god I could bathe in this’ level. For those of you who don’t know what Za’Atar is, it’s, as well as being a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs, a popular Middle Eastern herbs and spice mixture. My mixture was made of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, cumin, coriander and fennel. It’s incredibly versatile (we had it on some lamb yesterday and the combination of both was the ultimate in ‘bathing’), but you can also mix in some oil and spread it on breads for example.
Recipe for Za’Atar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (please adapt according to what you like and amounts):
Pre-heat oven to gas 6/200C – see below where I explain about my oven.
Measuring your seeds put them in a pan. For every 1/2 cup of seeds add 2 cups of water and around 1 tbsp of salt ( I had 5 1/2 cups so I added 10 cups of water and 5 tbsp of salt – I know it sounds like a lot but it isn’t when it is all done). Bring it to the boil and simmer for 10min. You will see they start changing colour slightly as the outer shell gets softer – The idea of boiling the seeds first come from the Simply Recipes blog and I think she is spot on with it.
Drain well and put them on an oven tray coated in olive oil ( you don’t need much). Move the seeds about so that they get coated in the oil and then add your Za’Atar seasoning (I added 4 tsps, I think they came out flavoursome but not overpowered. Please add less, or more, according to what you like).
Bake in the oven for between 10-30 min. The smaller the seeds the less time they will need. The bigger, the longer. Time will also depend on how you like them, slightly toasted or very crisp! If you are unsure the best thing to do is bake for 5, check it, see how they have progressed and take it from there how long you want to bake for. You know your oven better than anyone so go with what is right for you. I had to bake my seeds for 30min due to their size and because my oven is not the best to say the least: it’s old, the door doesn’t close properly and it’s generally a bit useless.
Halfway through I tasted a couple and personally I added 1tsp extra of salt. That’s just me! I would advise trying to see if seasoning is good.
Once done leave it to cool completely if you can (I ate a few during this process) and enjoy it while you put up some Halloween decorations or watch a scary movie.