At this time of year, it seems like every recipe, décor hack, and DIY idea is about pumpkins and pumpkin pie–spiced goodies. While those are just two of the reasons to get excited about fall, there’s one part of the pumpkin that’s often overlooked and discarded, though it could prove to be the best bit: pumpkin seeds, known in Spanish as pepitas. The small, almond-shaped seeds add a full, roasted, and nutty flavor to any fall dish.
If you forgot to savor the leftovers from pumpkin carving this Halloween, just search for pepitas in the nuts and seeds bulk section of most grocery and health food stores. Whether served sweet or savory, healthy or indulgent, the tiny seeds can upgrade the simplest meals into something your friends and family won’t stop talking about until the leaves change next year. Here are eight reasons pepitas are the most underrated fall ingredient and how to cook with them.
Balsamic-Roasted Beet Salad With Pumpkin Seeds
Nuts and seeds make an excellent and nutritious choice for salad toppings in lieu of croutons, and in this salad, pepitas bring the important crunch factor. Tangy balsamic roasted beets are tossed with sweet orange segments, goat cheese crumbles, and pepitas in a maple syrup dressing for a light winter salad that’s perfect for a midweek lunch.
Smoky Pumpkin Beer and Cheddar Potato Soup
A good pumpkin soup is just what’s needed on a chilly fall night, but this one cranks it up to 110% with a candied bacon popcorn topping. The soup base is made from smoky gouda and cheddar, as well as pumpkin puree, and a bottle of pumpkin beer. Add in chilies in adobo and warming spices, such as cumin and paprika, and you have your new Sunday night favorite.
SHOP THE ESSENTIALS:
Chive-and–Pumpkin Seed Pesto Swirl Loaf
This bread loaf is really easy to make and a total stunner if you’re looking for a simple way to make an impact at the dining table. The layers are made up of simple dough and a pepitas pesto, where traditional pine nuts are replaced with pumpkin seeds. You cut the dough and roll it cinnamon roll–style, which results in a beautiful, round, rose-like loaf.
Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Dark Chocolate Bark
It’s usually pretty hard to come up with a satisfying sweet and salty snack that’s healthy too, but this bark is about as close to perfect as you can get. Just melt and distribute dark chocolate onto a baking pan (espresso powder and pumpkin pie spice give the base that hint of something mysterious), and top with pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Break apart into bark once fully cooled for a gourmet-looking, on-the-go snack.
SHOP THE ESSENTIALS:
Coconut Matcha Granola
The other ingredient having its moment in the spotlight besides pumpkin? That’d be matcha, the green tea superfood that’s packed with antioxidants. This granola uses good-for-you ingredients like matcha, rolled oats, unsweetened and flaked coconut, and crunchy, earthy pepitas, turning your breakfast into something totally unique and delicious. It’s vegan, and super easy to make gluten-free, too.
Roasted Pumpkin Seed Hummus
The flavor combinations you can accomplish with hummus are astonishing, and you’ll confidently add this roasted pumpkin seed hummus to your rotation once you discover how creamy, rich, and earthy hummus can be with these little additions. Spices like smoked paprika and chili powder add depth, while raw pepitas sprinkled on top add crunch.
Turmeric-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re a purist, try snacking on pumpkin seeds in their simplest form — simply roasted with antioxidant-packed turmeric. Hot sauce, salt, and pepper round out the spices. Use them to top salads, or just snack on them straight from the bowl. They’ll store up to a week in an airtight container, but chances are you won’t have any left over after the first day — they’re that addictive.
Harvest Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients in these kitchen sink–style cookies—most of them are good for you, such as oats, applesauce, pumpkin puree, dark chocolate, and pepitas. The recipe can be easily made gluten-free by using hazelnut flour instead of wheat flour, making them an ideal make-ahead dessert for a dinner party (although you’ll have a hard time not eating them all yourself beforehand).