You might be inclined to pitch the seeds in the garbage with the other goop, but you'd be throwing away an excellent snack food. Pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) make a delicious snack that's full of flavor, crunch, and fiber. And you can put your own special spin on your pumpkin seeds with your choice of seasonings!
To prepare, separate the pumpkin seeds from the fiber and rinse. Let them dry. Coat the seeds with melted butter, spread them on a cookie sheet (or skip the butter and just coat the cookie sheet with oil), and sprinkle the seeds with salt. Roast in a 250 degree oven for about an hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn! This is the Plain Jane Recipe. It's good, but there are oh, so many other options out there!
Some ideas: Sprinkle with Frontier Herbs All-Purpose Seasonings such as Herby, Mama Garlic® or Pepperman® for a special zing. Or, top with one of Frontier's Popcorn Seasonings or Simply Organic Ranch Salad Dressing Mix or Southwest Taco Seasoning. When the pepitas come out of the oven, grab your favorite beverage, a new release DVD and a comfy spot on the couch, and enjoy!
Meet the Cousins
Pumpkin, along with its cousins, squashes, are harvested late in the growing season, which results in a tough outer rind. The hard rind means they're difficult to cut, but on the flip side, it also means they store well for long periods of time--throughout the winter and spring. In the midst of a long, gray winter, squash can bring a blast of yellow, gold or orange color to the table, along with great flavor and variety to your meals.
To prepare squash, cut it in half (if it's a long squash, cut vertically so that you end up with two long pieces) and scoop out the seeds and fiber. Squash is usually prepared by baking (place on a baking sheet cut side down with a little water), steaming or boiling, but it can also be microwaved or sautéed.
Types of Squash
In addition to pumpkin, some of the other members of the Cucurbitaceae family (whoa...try that in a spelling bee!) include:
Acorn: A popular selection because of its small size, which can provide two good-sized servings. Acorn is a good source of calcium, and its flavor is best when baked.
Banana: Ooh, if only we could buy paint in this color! The beautiful creamy golden interior makes a visually appealing dish, and it's a great-tasting squash, too, with a fruity, buttery flavor. This variety is big--often weighing around 12 pounds--so it is often sold in pre-cut chunks.
Buttercup: From the outside, it looks a bit like a little round watermelon, but the flavor is more reminiscent of honey, roasted chestnuts, and sweet potato. This variety is highly thought of by squash enthusiasts, although it does tend to be a little dry.
Other preparation methods: Steam the pumpkin for 10 to 12 minutes, bake it on a baking sheet (cut side down) at 350 degrees for about an hour, or even microwave it (cut side down) on high for 15 minutes or until tender. One pound of raw pumpkin will yield one cup of cooked pumpkin puree.
More Fun with Pumpkins
Most of us enjoy a good pumpkin-carving get-together, and some of us even attend pumpkin festivals across the United States to celebrate the pumpkin harvest. But the Society of Physics Students at California State University in Chico, CA, have their own special way of entertaining themselves at the pumpkin's expense. They host an annual S.P.S. Pumpkin Drop to re-enact Galileo's "Law of Falling Bodies" experiment, which he tested from the top of the Tower of Pisa. Each Halloween, one of the students dons Galileo garb and explains Galileo's law to bystanders who choose to witness this spectacle, while fellow students put the law into action by dropping pumpkins from the top of the college's library. Interesting idea, but maybe not something to tell the kids about...
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» Meet the pumpkin
» Cooking or carving
» Save the seeds
» Types of squash
» How to pick 'em