Maybe it's my infatuation with fall produce in all its glory, but I've been noticing a trend in my cooking. It's a bit like the nose-to-tail approach to meat, but with vegetables. Stems of beet greens and chard leaves have become the subject of creamy gratins, the loose outer leaves of brussel sprouts the base of lemony salads, and now the seeds of pumpkins and squashes, the makings of sweet midnight snacks.
Using the seed-roasting technique we all probably know by heart (scoop, dry, bake until crispy) then spiced up with your spice cabinet (and cheese drawer, and baking reserves), you can take the classic Halloween snack to new levels.
Seed Roasting Refresher Course
Not much has changed since you helped Mom and Dad with this task as a kid (although you've probably outgrown your mess-making gusto some). Here's a basic recipe for roasting seeds with sea salt and olive oil, with four variations below, and check out the slideshow for the basic seed-roasting technique»
4 Flavor Variations
I toyed with a ton. These few were game-changers. (Bake them all first at 275°F for 20 to 25 minutes.)
Drizzle the seeds in equal parts good balsamic vinegar (if yours isn't great quality, just reduce it by half in a saucepan to sweeten and thicken first) and fruity extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast. (Oddly, the end result tastes similar to Cracker Jacks.)
Butter and Ground Sage
Melt butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop; lightly coat seeds in it and let excess butter drain off in a colander. Toss with generous amounts of ground sage and kosher salt to taste. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast. (These may take an extra 5 or 10 minutes to crisp in the oven.)
Pepper and Parmesan
This classic combination is so for a reason. Coat seeds with extra virgin olive oil and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Roast; then remove and mix with grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Place back in the oven to quickly brown the cheese. (This happens quickly, so be sure to keep watch.)
Candied Espresso and Brown Sugar Seeds?
I had major doubts when trying a sweet version of roasted seeds. But I threw back the resulting treats so fast, I scared myself a little. Here's the recipe »
About the author: "Sue Veed" is an editor at a Manhattan-based food magazine and a current culinary student who's trying to learn it all so she can cook it all. She'll take us along for the ride as she makes the journey from home cook to professional. Among things she may never master: looking natural in a chef's hat, and acting demure whenever a pork product hits the table.