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Getty Images / Pumpkin seeds add a satisfying crunch to a variety of foods.

Oh Great Pumpkin! How we love decorating you with ghoulish grins or happy smiles — carving your face is so much fun. Getting the slime and seeds out can be tough, though.

But there's no need to throw the seeds away with all the slimy strands. The seeds are delicious when roasted — crunchy, nutty and dazzling in their versatility. Even if simply dried and left raw, they're a nutritious addition to numerous foods.

The larger your pumpkin, the more seeds you'll have to work with, so it's those wonderful jack-o'-lanterns — the big orange orbs of Halloween — that are the most-generous when it comes to seeds.

 

SEPARATING THE SLIME

According to gardeningknowhow.com, the easiest way to get the pulp off the seeds is by using your hands at the start, separating the seeds from the slime as much as possible. Then put the seeds in a colander and rinse them well under cold running water while you rub the seeds gently to remove any remaining pulp.

Finish the process by spreading the seeds out on a kitchen towel or parchment paper. Don't use paper towels because the seeds will stick. Once dry, you're ready to roast or put into a container to use in recipes.

 

BRINGING OUT THE FLAVOR

Once cleaned and dried, pumpkin seeds can be tossed with salt and olive oil and roasted or sprinkled with seasonings for added flavor.

Here are some ideas from foodnetwork.com:

* For sweet seeds, toss with oil, cinnamon and sugar.

* For a touch of India, toss them with some oil and garam masala, and add currants after roasting.

* Spanish pumpkin seeds, better known as pepitas, can be made with oil and smoked paprika and mixed with slivered almonds after roasting.

* Italian flavor can be added with a toss of oil, grated parmesan and dried oregano.

* Add some heat by tossing them with oil, brown sugar, chipotle chili powder and ground cumin.

To bake: Spread the seeds on a baking sheet, and bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

Pumpkin seeds, no matter the flavor, will burn easily, so keep an eye on them. When golden brown, store the seeds in an airtight container and use them as a topping for salads or as a crunchy snack. Whether roasted or simply dried and used raw, pumpkin seeds make a nutritious autumn addition to dishes.

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Staff File Photo / Harvest the seeds when you carve your jack-o'-lantern and use them as a topper for soups and salads or incorporated into recipes such as cookies or cornbread.

 

Black Bean Soup With Pumpkin Seeds

This soup has a little heat and a lot of flavor and texture.

2 poblano chilies

1 large dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeds removed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

Kosher salt

2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained

Sour cream

2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds

Heat broiler. Broil poblano chilies on a foil-lined baking sheet, turning occasionally, until blackened, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam 15 minutes. Peel, seed and finely chop.

Toast ancho chile in same skillet until slightly darkened and pliable, about 1 minute; transfer to plate.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add tomatoes and ancho chile; blend until smooth.

Return tomato mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until thick, 6-8 minutes. Stir in broth; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. Stir in black beans and poblano chilies. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve soup topped with sour cream and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.

 

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Getty Images / Homemade oatmeal cookies with cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Hearty Oat-Pumpkin Seed Cookies

This recipe from delish.com is chock-full of flavor and nutrition. Not too sweet, it has all the flavors of the autumn season.

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the oats and coconut, and toss to combine. Fold in the walnuts, raisins, cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and honey. In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and boiling water, then add to the butter mixture (it will become frothy).

Make a well in the center of the oat mixture, pour in the butter mixture and mix to combine.

Using wet hands, form the mixture into 15 balls (about 1/4 cup each), and place on the prepared sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Gently press each ball down so it is 1/2 inch thick, and bake until golden brown, 16 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets.

 

Cream Cheese-Pumpkin Cornbread

Sweet and savory, this cornbread is packed full of pumpkin flavor with pumpkin puree inside crowned with crunchy pumpkin seeds on top.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup whole or evaporated milk

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 can pumpkin puree

2 tablespoon honey, plus more for serving

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Place 12-inch cast-iron skillet in oven, and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream cheese, pumpkin, honey and 7 tablespoons butter (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon). Add to cornmeal mixture, and mix until just combined.

Remove skillet from oven, and brush bottom and sides with remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

Pour batter into heated pan. Top with onion and pumpkin seeds, and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with honey for drizzling, if desired.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

The Legend of the Jack-O’-Lantern

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the devil from changing back into his original form.

Jack eventually freed the devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the devil could not come down until the devil promised Jack not to bother him for 10 more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

— historychannel.com

 

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