Perfectly Pumpkin Seeds: Getting Sweet and Savory with Pepitas

Perfectly Pumpkin Seeds: Getting Sweet and Savory with Pepitas
Pumpkin seeds are pint-sized powerhouses of nutrition and a delicious addition to the hors d'ouevres table at your next dinner party. Loaded with magnesium and zinc, you can rest easy as you set out platters of pumpkin seed nibbles knowing your guests are getting mouthfuls of deliciousness and a zing of nutrition at the same time.

Seedy Surprises

Pumpkin seeds come in two forms: green (hulled) and white (not hulled). White pumpkin seeds are the ones you scrape out of the bowels of your pumpkin before carving it at Halloween. They are rendered scrumptious from a good cleaning, a dunk in boiling water, and a thorough roasting after being tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous scattering of sea salt.
But today we're talking about the green ones, often called pepitas. These little morsels are simply the insides of the white pumpkin seeds; remove the white hulls and you have these lovely green jewels ready for snacking or baking. They are brilliant eaten raw in salads and trail mix or tossed into a variety of sweet or savory baked goods.
You can knead a handful into your bread dough or add a nice crunch to muffins by stirring a few tablespoons of pepitas into the batter. Sprinkle them on top of cinnamon buns or bread rolls before baking for a pretty, toasty, and crunchy topping.
As an accompaniment to your next pot of soup, whip up a batch of savory scones such as Peppered Parmesan and mix in a generous handful of green pumpkin seeds. The nuttiness of the seeds pairs nicely with the tangy cheese and spicy pepper. Cut them in small rounds for a dinner party or in big wedges for a late night bowl of chili. They are good warm and tender straight out of the oven, or cooled and topped with a generous smear of butter.
For something a little sweeter yet equally rustic, make a batch of Ginger Maple Shortbread. The dough is sweetened with muscovado -- a sumptuous dark brown sugar -- that gives a rich depth to these light and crispy cookies. Made with melted butter, they're a breeze to whip up, and the pepitas provide a welcome crunch and earthy flavor.

Peppered Parmesan Pepita Scones

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and grated
  • 2/3 cup milk or cream
  • 1 large egg
  • milk for brushing

Preheat oven to 450 F.
In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.Cut in butter, mixing with fingers or pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a cup, mix milk and egg until lightly beaten. Pour into flour mixture and toss with a fork until dough forms.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead only enough for dough to stick together. Press out into circle about 1-inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
Place on baking sheet covered with baking paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until tops are golden brown.
Serve warm or cool.

Ginger Maple Pepita Shortbread

makes 16

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 tablespoon pepitas for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 F
In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, ginger, pepitas, and sea salt, making sure to crush any lumps of spice or sugar.
In measuring cup, stir together butter and maple extract. Pour over flour mixture and stir with fork until combined.
Dump dough onto floured surface and knead until it holds together. Press or roll out into rectangle 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut into 16 pieces and place on baking sheet covered with baking powder. Press one pepita into top of each cookie, or create a design.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are gold brown.
Let cool a few minutes before eating.

All photos are courtesy of the author.

Krista Bjorn

Canadian born Krista Bjorn has been traveling and exploring for over 20 years and loves every crazy, embarrassing, and wonderful moment. She's lived in Russia and Portugal and now makes her home in beautiful Queensland, Australia, saving her pennies for her next trip. Her food, photography and travel blog is Rambling Tart.
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