An Italian Friend & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Here in North America we tend to associate pumpkins with dessert. When I was in grad school I had an Italian friend who found the idea of Pumpkin Pie strange and, well, kind of gross (?!?) but LOVED pumpkin in all kinds of savory preparations. You know, things like Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Ravioli.
She is the friend who first told me about pumpkin blossoms. I immediately began cooking up the ones from our garden, filling them with all kinds of cheesy stuffings. She was delighted when I told her about my adventures and then said, “Oh, I just like them chopped up and scrambled with eggs and a few basil leaves.”
So simple. So good. So lovely to have such a brilliant Italian friend.
Now, when pumpkin time rolls around, I inevitably turn my mind to my old friend and to simple Italian flavors, like in this roasted pumpkin seed recipe where the seeds are toasted in oil and then tossed with pesto and Parmigiano-Reggiano before spending some time crisping up in the oven.
For this recipe, follow my step-by-step instructions with pretty pictures for How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds over here. When it says to mix together seasonings, combine:
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 tbsps prepared basil pesto
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
Here’s the full recipe with instructions with a print button in case you want to have the whole thing in one place with you in the kitchen.
- 1 large pumpkin
- 2 tbsps vegetable oil
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp coarse black pepper
- These instructions begin with a full large pumpkin. At the end, not only will you have delicious roasted pumpkin seeds but you will also have a pumpkin that is ready for carving.
- Cut a circular 5-8 inch diameter hole in the top of the pumpkin encircling the stem (use a sturdy serrated knife and a sawing action).
- Use the stem as a handle to remove the the circular cut out. Using two fingers, squidge off any seeds that cling to the lid.
- Put these seeds into a colander. Use a knife to trim the fibrous strands off of the pumpkin lid. Discard the fibrous strands and set the lid aside.
- Dive into the pumpkin with one hand. Grasp a bundle of seeds in your fingers. Gently tug on them while squeezing your fingertips together at the point where the bundle of seeds meets the pumpkin fibers until the seeds release. Put the seeds into the colander detaching any bits of orange pumpkin fibers that have come along for the ride (don’t worry if you can’t get them all off. A lot more will come off in the rinsing step). Repeat until all the seeds have been removed from the pumpkin cavity. You should get 1 to 1 and ½ cups.
- Put the colander into the sink. Rinse the seeds under a long full blast of water. Swish them all around under the water to help detach any stubborn pumpkin fibers. Line a large bowl with paper towels. Pour the seeds into the bowl. Wrap the towel around the seeds and pat them dry.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a large pan with parchment paper.
- Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds. It is inevitable that some water has clung to the seeds so stand back a bit and beware of spattering. Stir the seeds to coat them all with the oil. Cook stirring occasionally until well-browned, about 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir the remaining ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Transfer the seeds to the bowl of seasonings and stir to coat. Pour the seeds onto the large pan and put the pan into the oven. Roast the seeds until they are dry and crisp, 15-18 minutes.
- While the pumpkin seeds are roasting, use a metal serving spoon to scrape all the stringy fibers away from the inside of the pumpkin. Discard them. Now your pumpkin is ready for carving!
- Cool the seeds on the pan.
- Transfer to a serving bowl or store roasted pumpkin seeds for up to 3 days in an airtight container.