You know Halloween’s just around the corner when pumpkins start popping up in your local grocery store. Just like most people, I love carving out pumpkins and making spooky jack o lanterns to get into the festive spirit.
When I’m cleaning out the pumpkin guts, I don’t throw away the seeds because they make for easy healthy snacks. If you’re familiar with pumpkin seeds, you may have heard about pepitas. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and how they can be cooked.
What Are Pepitas?
Pepitas de calabazza is a Spanish word that literally means ‘little seeds of squash’. These are little green seeds that date back at least some thousand years. They’re commonly used in Mexican dishes and are also eaten as a healthy snack after they’re roasted. Over the years, they’ve become widely available across the globe and can be found in all the seasons.
Pepitas taste quite like sunflower seeds as they have a light, nutty flavor. Their crunchy texture makes them a perfect addition to salads and granola.
Is There a Difference Between Pepitas and Pumpkin Seeds?
Contrary to popular belief, pepitas and pumpkin seeds aren’t the same thing. Pepitas are little seeds that are found in hull-less pumpkins, also known as Oil Seed or Styrian pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds obtained from other types of pumpkin are a lot less tender and also have a hull.
How to Eat Pepitas
Whole pepitas are mostly eaten raw or roasted, whereas the tender center of the pepita can be eaten in a number of ways. They can be added in trail mixes, breakfast cereals, and even quinoa because they can enhance the flavor.
If you’re like me and like baking whole-grain bread at home, then add these into the dough for a better texture. You can also sprinkle them on top of salads, desserts, or anything that could do with some nutrition. Grind them and mix them into salsa to give some depth to the flavor.
If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can try making pepita crusted chicken or salmon and enjoy a fancy meal at home.
How to Roast Pepitas
Here are a few simple steps you can take to roast pepitas and enjoy them as healthy snacks throughout the day.
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups full of pepitas
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash your pepitas in a mesh strainer. Let them dry out before adding a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to them and mix them all together.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and carefully arrange them in a single layer.
- Put the sheet inside the oven and let the pepitas roast for about 45 minutes.
- When they’ve turned a beautiful golden brown, take the baking sheet out of the oven.
- Dry the pepitas on a plate lined with paper towels, and serve.
If you’ve got any leftovers, then store them in an airtight jar and consume them within 2 weeks.
Should You Eat Raw Pepitas?
Pepitas can also be enjoyed as a raw, gluten-free, and vegan snack. Raw pepitas are better than roasted pepitas because they have more nutritional value and roasting can make them lose some of their nutrients.
Can Pepitas Be Used as a Substitute for Pine Nuts?
Pepitas can be used as a substitute for pine nuts in salads or pesto. They’re both known to have a mild and sweet flavor. Pine nuts are quite expensive because pine cones can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to mature. Pepitas, however, are harvested every year, which is why they can be used as an inexpensive replacement for pine nuts in different recipes.
Now that you’ve learned everything about pepitas, feel free to add them into your favorite granola recipe and enjoy a healthy breakfast every day. Blend them into salsas and sauces for a rich flavor and mix them into your salads for extra crunchiness.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and learned a great deal about pepitas!