Thursday, November 4, 2010

1 Recipe #192: Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Za'atar

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As promised, here's another pumpkin recipe, this time using just the seeds.

The seeds pictured below were the ones I excavated from our Halloween Jack O'Lanterns (a.k.a. "field) pumpkin & also a "pie" pumpkin that I recently used for cooking. Although I wouldn't recommend cooking with Jack O'Lanterns (they can be kind of tough & thready), the seeds are, of course, very good toasted.

This recipe is great to make for a quick snack-on-the go. They're fast & easy to make & very nutritious too -- a great source of fiber, protein, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, & vitamin K. They are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, & hence have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain phytosterols, which lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, pumpkin seeds help maintain prostate health & protect against osteoporosis & arthritis. So, eat your pumpkin seeds! :-D

I should mention that they also have a significant amount of tryptophan, so if you eat them on the same day as your holiday turkey, you might have to take a nap afterwards. ;)

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Za'atar

1 c. unshelled pumpkin seeds (from a fresh, edible or field/Jack O' Lantern pumpkin)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. za'atar (see recipe or buy this spice mix in a Middle Eastern market or specialty shop)
salt, to taste (optional)

Directions: Pour lemon juice & pumpkin seeds into a bowl, thoroughly coating seeds with the lemon juice. Then sprinkle za'atar on top & again, coat thoroughly. Spread out pumpkin seeds in a single layer onto an aluminum-foil coated metal pan (for easy clean-up) and cook in the oven on 160-170ºF for about 15-20 minutes, or until a very light golden brown. (Cooking them at a low temperature helps to preserve their healthy oils.) After about half-way through baking (about 10 minutes or so), be sure to shake the seeds a bit, &/or move them around with a heat-proof utensil, to flip them over & keep them from sticking to the aluminium foil. Watch the oven carefully as the seeds tend to burn easily. Let cool. Serve immediately or store in a non-reactive, airtight container for future use.

Yield: 1 cup.

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