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Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: There are snacks hiding inside your pumpkin. Here's how to roast any squash seed, without burning -- and without a recipe.
If you're carving or roasting any pumpkins this fall, you'll have some guts to deal with. From the depths of your gourd you'll scrape out a tangle of orange pulp dotted with small white seeds, and if you're smart, you'll do something with it.
Take a few minutes to separate seeds from slime, and you'll have a free snack to enjoy while you carve or roast. Roasted pumpkin seeds are the BOGO of autumnal treats.
You don't need a recipe to do this, but you do need to pay attention to your technique. These seeds are tiny, and negligence will lead to burning. Follow these five steps and you'll end up with crispy, crunchy, salty seeds. Then start experimenting with flavors and other squash seeds: butternut, acorn, and delicata are all fair game.
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (or Any Squash Seeds) without a Recipe
1. Separate your seeds from their flesh. Start by squeezing the big pieces of flesh right at the seam where the seeds attach, and they'll fall off in clumps. Pick out any remaining stringy stuff. Prepare for your hands to get a little orange and a lot slimy. Keep a towel nearby for wiping.
2. Rinse, then boil your seeds. Why boil? The tricky thing about roasting pumpkin seeds is that their insides tend to cook faster than their outsides, so when they look done they're actually black inside. As we learned from Angela Liddon, boiling pumpkin seeds before roasting ensures that everything cooks evenly. So after you've cleaned the muck off of your seeds, boil them in salted water for ten minutes.
More: We're selling this adorable pot in Provisions, and it's the perfect size for seed-boiling.
3. Dry thoroughly. You're about to toss these puppies with oil -- and you want it to stick. So dry them well, dabbing with a clean tea towel in a colander until they're dry. Pluck off the seeds that cling to your towel.
5. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes at 325° F, stirring halfway through. Your seeds are done when crispy on the outside and golden on the inside. Add more salt to taste as necessary, and serve once they're cool enough to eat. You can also store them in an airtight container and use them throughout the week as a topping for sides, salads, oatmeal, or yogurt.
As for pumpkin carving tips, well, we've got those too.
Photos by James Ransom