As a kid, I looked forward to eating roasted pumpkin seeds every October after a long afternoon of carving pumpkins with my brothers. Of course, in those days, I thought of pumpkin as a decoration, not a vegetable, and the seeds we ate were usually dry and tough, and seasoned only with salt. Oh how things have changed!* This maple cinnamon variation is a fun riff on a simple, old-fashioned snack, and one I make all winter long, as I cook my way through squash after squash.
Pumpkin’s a given, but did you know that you can eat the seeds of all kinds of squash? I always save the seeds from butternut, acorn, and kabocha squash and prepare them the same way I do pumpkin seeds. The rest of the squash guts and skins really give body to homemade vegetable stock.
Since fresh squash seeds are still in their fibrous hulls, they stay characteristically chewy after baking, but soaking them overnight does plump them up a little and help keep them from burning while they bake. A dash of maple flavoring and a few drops of stevia make this snack pop with flavor without getting too sweet, but if you don’t have those things on hand, you can always add an extra tablespoon of maple syrup.
- 1½ c fresh pumpkin seeds (in their hulls)
- 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
- ½ + ¼ tsp salt, divided
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a few drops maple flavoring
- a few drops liquid stevia
- Separate pumpkin seeds from stringy pumpkin guts and rinse well in a colander.
- Place pumpkin seeds in a covered container and fill with water. Add ½ tsp salt.
- Soak seeds overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ tsp salt, maple syrup, olive oil, cinnamon, and maple flavoring.
- Drain pumpkin seeds and toss with syrup mixture until evenly coated.
- Spread seeds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. You're aiming for a single layer of seeds.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden, stirring the pan every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Don't worry if they aren't perfectly crunchy right when you remove them; they'll crisp up as they cool.
- Allow seeds to cool in pan, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking to the pan or each other.
- Enjoy pumpkin seeds warm, or cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
*For instance, YouTube didn’t exist, the global sea level was around 3 inches lower, and about 3 billion fewer farmed animals were killed each year!