rojo, a sauce made from pumpkin seeds, goes
beautifully over roasted pumpkin.
first encountered pumpkin seeds the same way a lot of
American children do — in slimy fistfuls pulled from
Halloween pumpkins. Of course, I immediately discarded the
seeds, along with the stringy pulp, as I moved on to the
more important, and more fun, knife-wielding part of the
is a shame, because pumpkin seeds are nutritionally dense
and extremely versatile in the kitchen. So in this
pumpkin-crazed point of the year, when pumpkin-spiced this
and pumpkin-flavored that take over our grocery aisles and
public consciousness, why not give a little love to the
humble pumpkin seed?
flavor out of them is simple. Most supermarkets sell hulled
pumpkin seeds, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll have to
exhume the seeds from a pumpkin and then remove the fibrous
white hull encasing the dark green seed. Though some very
traditional recipes leave them on, the hull doesn’t add
any real flavor and results in a gritty texture.
give the seeds a toast. Raw pumpkin seeds have a subtle,
grassy flavor, but toast them and captivating nutty aromas
emerge. Sprinkle with salt and maybe some chili powder, and
you have a satisfying snack that could easily take the place
of bar peanuts at your next party.
that’s really just the beginning.
seeds make excellent garnishes. Hardly a salad gets tossed
in my house that doesn’t benefit from a generous sprinkle
of toasted pumpkin seeds. Along with a richly nutty taste,
they add a distinctive crunch to each bite. For this same
reason, they also do extremely well scattered atop soups,
especially blended soups like sweet potato or red pepper.
seeds also have a sweet side. Pumpkin seed brittle, easy to
make, is great on its own, or as a crunchy addition to soft
dessert, like a panna cotta. Pumpkin seeds provide a
consistent crunchy texture throughout a brittle, especially
compared to those made with softer nuts like cashews.
looking for the center of pumpkin seed usage, look no
farther than the Mexican state of Yucatan. Pumpkin seeds
have been an integral part of the cuisine there for
hundreds, if not thousands of years — often toasted and
ground up to form the base of a dip or sauce. One of the
most ubiquitous is sikil p’aak, a mixture of pumpkins
seeds, tomatoes and chilies that is commonly served with
you’re looking to create the most pumpkin-heavy dish of
the fall season, go all in with pipian rojo. The sauce (it
can be defined also as a mole) blends pumpkin seeds, chilies
and a complex assortment of spices to create something
fragrant, spicy and rich all at once. Usually pipian rojo is
served over poultry, but in Lucky Peach’s latest book,
"Power Vegetables!" the sauce tops roasted kabocha
squash. In spirit of the season, we’ve swapped that squash
in favor of pumpkin, though use whatever squash you want.
The rustic earthiness of the sauce plays off the tender,
sweet flesh of the pumpkin. It also has the benefit of
combining the two parts of gourd — the flesh and the seeds
— into a harmonious, and extremely delicious, whole.
2 1/2 cups (6 servings)
tablespoons neutral oil, like olive oil
dried guajillo chilies
dried ancho chilies (or two more guajillos)
cup chopped onion
teaspoon dried oregano
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon sweet paprika
teaspoon ground cinnamon
cup pumpkin seeds
tablespoon sesame seeds
teaspoon kosher salt
Pull the stems from the chilies and shake out and discard
their seeds. Tear the chilies into pieces the size of a
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the torn chilies, garlic and onion, and toss to coat
them in the oil. Sweat the vegetables until the onion and
garlic are soft and the oil has turned red from the chilies,
about 8 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves, oregano, cumin,
paprika and cinnamon. Continue cooking, stirring often,
until the spices have melded and give off a heady aroma,
about 2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce
the heat and gently simmer until the sauce base has reduced
by half (to about 2 cups), about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the pumpkin seeds in a medium skillet and
set over medium-low heat. Warm the seeds, tossing them in
the pan so that they toast evenly, until they have darkened
a few shades, 3 to 4 minutes. A few will pop and dance in
the pan. Slide them onto a plate and add the sesame seeds to
the pan. Toast the seeds, shaking the pan, until they are a
dirty blond, about 2 minutes. Slide them onto the plate with
the pumpkin seeds and let cool.
Carefully puree the hot sauce base and cooled seeds in a
blender or with an immersion blender until very smooth.
Return the sauce to the pan and bring it to a simmer. Simmer
until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes, and season
with the salt. The pipian can be eaten immediately but will
taste best after being cooled and stored in the fridge for a
couple of days. Reheat it gently, adding splashes of water
to loosen the sauce if needed.
information per serving: 143 calories, 12 g fat, 1 g
saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g carbohydrates, 1 g
sugar, 5 g protein, 340 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
SQUASH WITH PIPIAN ROJO
from "Lucky Peach presents Power Vegetables!
Turbocharged recipes for vegetables with guts" by Peter
Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach. The authors call for
squash, but we used pumpkin for a double pumpkin effect.
pumpkins (2 pounds each)
rojo (recipe above)
cheeks (thick slices of lime, cut from the side to include
the curved part, the cheek, but not going through the
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pumpkins in half
vertically through the stem end. Don’t remove the seeds.
Lay the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking
sheet. Roast until tender enough to be pierced with a knife,
30 to 40 minutes. The skin may be quite firm but the flesh
will be soft and caramelized in spots.
When cool enough to handle, flip pumpkin halves over and
carefully scoop out their seeds and pulp, taking care not to
break the flesh. Slide a large serving spoon between the
skin and flesh of the pumpkin, removing the flesh from each
half in two or three large wedges.
Place the wedges from each half into a shallow bowl or
dinner plate, season with salt, and blanket each with pipian
rojo. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with a lime
information per serving: 296 calories, 18 g fat, 2 g
saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 10 g
sugar, 10 g protein, 514 mg sodium, 6 g fiber
by Chicago Tribune food writer Joseph Hernandez.
cups pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground allspice
teaspoon ground nutmeg
oil spray or 1 teaspoon neutral oil
stick unsalted butter
cup light corn syrup
teaspoons flaky salt, like sea salt
a bowl, combine pepitas, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Set
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat it
with vegetable spray or butter (or skip if using a silicone
a large saucepan, add the sugar, water, butter and corn
syrup; cook over high heat until the sugar begins to turn
golden, about 3 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir
occasionally until the mixture turns a golden amber color,
or a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees, about 10 minutes.
Immediately take the mixture off the heat and fold in the
spiced pepitas and salt. Pour the quickly cooling mixture
onto your prepared baking sheet; use a spatula to spread
brittle before it sets. You can also top with another sheet
of parchment paper and roll the whole thing flat, to your
desired thickness. Let cool for 20 minutes before breaking
into shards. Serve as is, with ice cream or other desserts.
information per serving: 390 calories, 15 g fat, 6 g
saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 64 g carbohydrates, 62 g
sugar, 4 g protein, 481 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
cotta looks fancy, but it’s surprisingly easy to whip
together. This version, inspired by Splendid Table’s
pumpkin pie panna cotta, is a textural foil to the brittle
— a bit of velvety smoothness to contrast the brittle’s
tablespoons unflavored gelatin
(15 ounces) pumpkin puree
the milk in a saucepan; sprinkle the gelatin over the top.
Allow to sit to bloom the gelatin, about 5 minutes. Over low
heat, gently heat the mixture until the gelatin is
sugar to the milk mixture; continue heating over low heat,
until the sugar is also dissolved, taking care to avoid
boiling the liquid. Remove from heat; whisk in the heavy
cream, cinnamon, vanilla and pumpkin puree until evenly
Divide the mixture among 12 ramekins or coffee cups. Cool to
room temperature, then cover and chill in the fridge at
least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, dip the
bottom of the ramekins into a bowl of hot water to loosen
the panna cotta. Run a knife around the edge and invert onto
a plate. (Alternatively, serve directly from the ramekins.)
Garnish with pepita brittle.
information per serving: 316 calories, 23 g fat, 15 g
saturated fat, 73 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrates, 23 g
sugar, 5 g protein, 49 mg sodium, 1 g fiber