You could sprinkle that soup or salad with plain pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds), but a few minutes roasting and a little smoked paprika and cayenne take these crunchy little flavor enhancers from serviceable to sensational. Roasted smoky pepitas are also PACKED with protein!
How to make Roasted Smoky Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
Start by heating the oven to 325 degrees. You can roast nuts at 350, but I’ve burned one too many pans at the higher temperature. By the time I smell the roasting pepitas at 325 degrees, they’re perfectly done, not burnt. Even if you’ve bought roasted pepitas, it doesn’t hurt to roast them a second time, plus you need hot seeds for the spices to stick. If you’ve got a toaster oven, here’s the time to use it. No point in heating up a big oven for such a small quantity of nuts. And if you do end up heating your oven, try to toast or roast something else at the same time or right after the pepitas come out of the oven.
Mix the spices while the pepitas roast. The proportions are pretty easy to remember. In descending order, it’s 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper for 2 cups of pumpkin seeds. Make them enough and you won’t need to come back here for the recipe, you’ll just know it.
When the pepitas come out of the oven, turn them into a bowl and quickly stir in the spice rub. As soon as they are well coated, turn them back onto the sheet pan to cool.
When to use Them
These crunchy seeds enliven just about any soup, salad, or vegetable you sprinkle them on, they also pack a ton of flavor and are great for eating out of hand. We use them to top our Creamy Tomato Soup. In a tightly-sealed jar, roasted smoky pepitas (pumpkin seeds) last for a month more. Even longer if you store them in a freezer.
Roasted Smoky Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix oil, pimenton, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl. Toast pumpkin seeds until fragrant and turn from green to golden, about 10 minutes. Toss toasted pumpkin seeds with pimenton mixture. (Can be stored in a jar for several weeks.)