If you're like a lot of people and never got around to carving your Halloween pumpkin into a jack-o'-lantern, don't let it go to waste, or even straight to the compost pile. You can harvest the seeds and turn them into a sweet or savory snack or garnish.
And if you happened to make an impulse purchase of a very large and unwieldy pumpkin, you may not be able to eat anything but the seeds, as we belatedly learned after nabbing an enormous, deeply discounted pumpkin on Halloween day. That could be a good thing.
Chef Ernest Miller of The Farmer's Kitchen restaurant at the Hollywood Farmers Market uses market pumpkins to turn out pumpkin waffles and muffins at the market-based eatery. What, we asked, do you do with a 75-pound pumpkin?
“Carve it,” said Miller. Turns out that our $20 pumpkin with the 65-inch girth is best used as a source of seeds for roasting. “Those extra-large pumpkins aren't good for eating,” said Miller. “They're stringy and flavorless.”
If you'd rather eat your Halloween pumpkin than carve it into a jack-o'-lantern, then Miller suggests that you buy sugar pumpkins, which are sometimes sold as pie pumpkins. (And if you don't want bugs and gunk in your pie, don't carve them for Halloween; adorn them with paint or decorations to keep the flesh fresh.)
Miller, naturally, is a pumpkin-seed-roasting pro. “The seeds for any pumpkin variety are good for roasting,” Miller said. He's been decorating pumpkin muffins with cinnamon-sugar roasted seeds and tossing salty and savory flavors around for salad garnishes.
He takes his pumpkin seeds very seriously and has devised a method for getting them crispy and salty. Here goes:
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for an Average-Size Pumpkin
From: Chef Ernest Miller of The Farmer's Kitchen
Note: Recipe is for an average-size pumpkins
Serves: 2 and up
1 pumpkin, any variety
1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more for salting
2 cups water
1-2 Tablespoons canola, grapeseed or peanut oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin open to retrieve the seeds and innards. Remove the stringy, gooey gook from the seeds.
2. Immerse seeds in brine solution of 1/4 cup kosher salt to 2 cups water; add more brine as necessary to cover.
3. Soak seeds in brine for four to five hours.
4. Drain and dry seeds overnight on sheet trays at room temperature.
5. Toss seeds with oil until lightly coated.
6. Salt lightly with kosher salt.
7. Roast seed 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly brown and crispy.
Miller suggests lightly sprinkling oiled seeds with 1/4 teaspoon of spices such as paprika for a smoky taste; cayenne for heat; or coriander and cumin for a savory flavor.
For cinnamon-sugar seeds, sprinkle oiled seeds with a mixture of 3 parts sugar to one part ground cinnamon. One tablespoon of cinnamon sugar should lightly cover one tray of seeds.