Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Home Roasted Pumpkin and Perfect Pepitas!

Homesteaders, it's pumpkin season!  Never fear, this is no typical pumpkin post.  You are about to learn the secret of The Home Roasted Pumpkin and THE recipe for Perfect Pepitas.

You want to make something with fresh roasted pumpkin from scratch, and really, who doesn't?  And you don't want pumpkin pie.  At least pretend you aren't feeling that pumpkin pie for a second, OK?  (It was hard for me, too, but I love all things pumpkin, so no problem, I moved on).  What you want is a nice, Curried Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Tamari Roasted Pepitas & Chickpeas.

Just remember that.

My Organic CSA Pumpkin, pictured with fresh sage and green beans.

Why roasting a pumpkin is homesteading:
Many times you need to prepare food before you can use it or store it.  I got this pumpkin in my CSA and I didn't want to waste it.  I'd never actually roasted a pumpkin before this!  I use canned pumpkin to do all my pumpkin breads and desserts (which I love, as you may know).  The big pumpkin sitting there on my counter tried to intimidate me with typical evil pumpkin dialogue, "I will take forever to make!" "I have only ever truly longed to be a Jack O'Lantern!" And, "What ever happened to that watermelon from four weeks ago?"  

Roasting a Pumpkin: So, it's not too hard to roast a pumpkin.  Just think of it as a big squash! You pretty much cut it in half and roast it.  Snap off the stem first, then cut on either side of the stem around and through the pumpkin.  Then, put your knife through the center of the stem and push down slowly, it will halve pretty easily.  The Vegan Zombie has a nice illustration of it in this video starting at 1 min 18 sec.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh, and set them aside--preferably in a big bowl so you can cover them with water (see below) and then make your roasted pepitas.  Anyway, brush the inside of the pumpkin with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast at about 400 degrees (you can do up to 450 if you want) for about 45-60 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the pumpkin.  While your pumpkin is roasting, prepare your seeds (see below).  Let it cool a bit, then, scoop the flesh from the skin, or just peel the skin off.  

I quartered mine to help it cook faster.  This was done at 400 for about 45 minutes.

Let it cool until you can handle it and then scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.  

Now you have delicious roasted pumpkin with which to do as you please.  If you want to can it, go for it! I'm not sure, but I may attempt a canned pumpkin pie filling if I can get another organic pumpkin (I'd never seen them before the one I got in my CSA).

And NOW, turn your oven down to the "warm" or "hold" setting, or just put it on the lowest temp you can...

Perfect Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)? Yes, please!

Why Roasting Pumpkin Seeds is Homesteading: 
Using all the edible parts of a seasonal vegetable is important to reducing waste on the homestead!  Guys, I never made really good roasted pumpkin seeds before.  Though they had good flavor, they were always chewy and the texture and consistency was never right. So, just because they were edible doesn't mean they were good.  Enter my new method that makes them GREAT. And, honestly, if food isn't that great, we are less likely to eat it and it is much more likely to go to waste.  

First trick: take your pumpkin seeds covered with pumpkin gunk and put it in a pretty big bowl and cover with water.  Mix it around with your hands, loosening the seeds from the flesh.  Seeds will float to the top and you can just skim them off with a slotted spoon!  Good trick, right? I thought of it from doing pomegranate seeds in the water just like that.


Second Trick:  This is the most essential trick to delicious, crisp-tender pumpkin seeds! You must dry them out first in a very low oven before roasting them. My oven has a "hold" or "keep warm" setting, and that is what I used.  Spread your seeds sans gunk out on a baking tray.  Don't line it with foil or a Silpat, it's easier to go right on the tray, if they stick, you just scrape them right off with a rubber spatula.

 Dry out on your "warm" setting or up to 200 degrees or so for one hour or longer, stirring about every 20-30 minutes or so, until the seeds look and feel dry, but are not starting to toast. Then, I just let mine sit in the oven until I was ready to roast them.  It turned out that they sat in there for two days before I roasted them and they were perfectly fine (and not stale or anything).

The seeds must look dry and feel dry for this step to be considered complete.
Most of the seeds in this shot are dry.

Third Trick: Flavor your seeds!  When you are ready, remove dried seeds from tray, put in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and whatever other seasonings you feel like.  I just did some with Cholula hot sauce, agave syrup, salt, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  You can make them sweet with cinnamon & sugar and a squeeze of fresh orange juice, or you can use ginger, garlic, curry powder, whatever.  And, of course, the classic olive oil & salt combo is always great.

Roast in a low oven (300 degrees) for 20-45 minutes, depending on the toughness of your seeds.  (I did line my tray with foil for this.)  I only had to do my smallish, tender organic CSA pumpkin seeds for 20 minutes and they were done.  Don't forget to stir them up and check on them every 15 min. or so.

Seriously these were amazing.

So crispy and tasty! Not chewy or tough! Huzzah!

 OK, so now you can use your roasted pumpkin for the soup (or for anything else!), and roasted pumpkin seeds for a garnish (or for a snack!).  For fun, you can also make some Tamari Roasted Pepitas and Chickpeas for a super fine soup garnish or high protein snack.

Tamari Roasted Pepitas & Chickpeas

About 2 cups cooked Chickpeas
*A whole can if you like! make sure to drain & rinse them if you use canned ones.
1/2 cup (or more! whatever you want) of Raw Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
*dried out in a low oven--see above--if you are homesteadin' it and using fresh-from-the-pumpkin-seeds)
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Organic Tamari
Sprinkle of Salt
Few shakes of Garlic powder
Squeeze of Lemon

Put everything in a bowl and mix up until all the chickpeas and pepitas are well coated.  Roast in a single layer on a baking sheet at 400 for about 20 minutes, you can put them in when you take out your pumpkin, if you have already dried out your pumpkin seeds. Stir halfway through to roast everything evenly.

These are super addictive.

But, what's that? You still want to make the Curried Cream of Pumpkin Soup? No problem.

Stay tuned!


  1. Ah! The slotted spoon is a good trick. I often get so frustrated with the pumpkin gunk that I just chuck the seeds, so thanks for the tip.

    1. Thanks, I was thinking of separating pomegranate seeds when I figured that one out!

  2. I *love* pumpkin seeds....well, I guess now-a-days we say 'pepitas'....my mother always made them from fresh pumpkins and I must admit they were chewy and kinda wet. Yours look great!!

    1. I'm really into Spanish right now, hence, pepitas! :-) I am going to be teaching Spanish and doing a Spanich Story Time (La Hora Del Cuento!) in my son's preschool class starting on Friday, so I just have Spanish on the brain all the time!

      Anyway, ALL the home made pumpkin seeds I have EVER had have been chewy and kinda wet, so that's why I was REALLY excited about these. Dry those seeds first! It's not a wasted step, everyone, trust me.


  3. I haven't tasted or used tamari as yet. Will have to look for it in the specialty section next time. But this sounds really tasty. :)

    1. Tamari is amazing. You will love it. I couldn't believe how much more complex and robust it is than regular soy sauce when I first tried it. It has notes of caramel, mushroom, earth, lemon, it's amazing. Get an organic one if you can. Amazon carries, it, too, I'm sure, if you can't find it in the store. It adds amazing umami to savory foods.

  4. I can't wait to try these pepitas when we carve our pumpkin. I am also looking forward to the curry pumpkin soup. i totally admit that I am not that into pumpkin - everything with pumpkin seems to be too sweet. Curry pumpkin soup sounds great though.

    Look forward to following your MoFo adventures.


    1. I think you'll like the soup! It's not sweet at all, but rather, warm and spicy, with some high notes of brightness from the tamarind concentrate (use it if you can find it!).

      Let me know how the pepitas turn out, too!


  5. I love, love, love the idea of canning your own pumpkin pie filling!

    1. Abby, me, too!! I SO WANT TO CAN MY OWN PUMPKIN PIE FILLING. BUT I think we are only getting that one, single pumpkin from our CSA this year. The farm had a little problem with them, I think. But, if that changes or I can ever get an organic pumpkin at the store, I'll do it!

      Unfortunately, I doubt I'll find one as I have never seen fresh organic pumpkins in any store around here :-( Canned, of course, but fresh organic ones? Nope. Well, here's to hoping, anyway!


  6. Ahhh.. so that's how you make them edible! ;) I have vivid memories of eating chewy pumpkin seeds so I have just tossed them out lately. No more of that!
    Also- we must be on the same cooking wave-length because I've got a post coming up today for Roasted Chickpeas! They ARE addictive. Next time I'm throwing in the pumpkin seeds with them!

    1. Morgan, I was so relieved (and excited!) to know that there was an easy solution to the chewy, kinda moist problem most people seem to have with home roasted pepitas. The drying step is totally the secret. Look out, pepitas, we're ALL comin' to roast ya now!

      I can't stop eating roasted chickpeas, either :-)


  7. Great tips!! I've never pre dried my seeds before, but I might just try this year. I like to add just a bit of granulated sugar to my oil and spice mix to make sure the outsides get all caramelized.


    1. Thanks, Kittee!!

      CARAMELIZED PEPITAS, OMG. I will definitely try that. Granulated sugar is totally the key there.

      I need to get my hands on another pumpkin!