Oil-Free, Air-Fryer Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Get your basic season snacking on
I resisted the PSL life for years. I refused to give into the oh-so-trendy Millennial love of all things pumpkin. I even self-righteously fought off the "basic" label, as I trudged around my college campus in Uggs and a Starbucks in hand, many days (I told myself it didn't count, since they were the Target brand knockoff, or Fuggs, as I call them.)
Let's go back to circa 1995, when 4-year-old, LL-Bean leggings-clad Emmy started selling pumpkins from a side of the road patch we set up in our neighborhood each year. From my perch on the tailgate of my dad's GNC Jimmy, I'd sell our home-grown pumpkins to neighbors, for a few bucks a pop.
The pumpkins themselves originated when my mom tossed a discarded store-bought Jack-o-lantern into the compost pile. The next year, up sprang dozens and dozens of volunteer pumpkins--spilling out of the compost pile and into our garden area. We found ourselves with heaps of pumpkins -- not the orange, perfectly round variety they'd been born from, but a hybrid cross between those and some gourds that had apparently also been in the compost patch (nature is cool/crazy!) Ours were a pale yellow-orange and slightly elongated, and they sold like hotcakes. It was these gourd-pumpkin hybrids that we carved each year for our own Jack-o-lanterns, roasted the seeds of, and cooked up for Thanksgiving pies.
Now, in years past this has been a bit of a fail, I'll admit. I've tried to follow the Pinterest recipes, and I'm not sure what's so hard about roasting seeds on a tray with some olive oil and spices, but I've managed somehow to burn the heck out of them the last couple tries. Extra humiliating when you've talked a biiig talk all Halloween week about being something of a pumpkin Queen.
So this year, after we carved up our Jack-o-lantern, I chose to forgot the internet's suggestions and made up my own recipe, if you can call it that, since it's seriously so simple!
I've been ALL about that air fryer life lately, because of the easyness of course, but also because as a general rule I try to go as oil-free as possible in my cooking. To be clear, because I think it's easy to get the wrong idea, there's nothing wrong for most people with a little oil - olive oil, coconut, and others have numerous health benefits in very small quantities, and can add great flavor. But my thinking is, where I can do without it, I do. I save my oil for drizzling on salads or when I really want to cook something up a little crispy, and the air fryer makes it stupid easy to simply go without oil and end up with food that tastes even better without it.
I chose a savory route for these, featuring garlic salt, Himalayan pink salt, cayenne pepper, and the holy grail of all seasonings, as far as I'm concerned, Trader Joe's everything but the bagel seasoning. Or as I know it, crack.
As the name suggests, this stuff is everything but the bagel....so, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, those little dried onion flecks, whatever else makes up the seasoning of an everything bagel, and it's so. freaking. good. Your avocado toast will never be the same. I've also put it on salads, steamed green beans, literally anything, and have my eye on an everything bagel baked tofu (!) recipe I want to try! If you tilt your head back and shake some straight onto your tongue, I wouldn't judge you.
Oil-Free, Air Fryer Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
How to Make Them:
After carving your pumpkin, separate out the seeds into a bowl or strainer, and discard or compost the "guts." Rinse your seeds under running water thoroughly, working through them with your hands to remove the stringy bits and rinse them until they're as clean as possible - you don't want them feeling slimy. Once they're clean, lay them out on paper or dish towels and let them dry--this step is crucial. I let mine lay out on my counter for several hours until they were nice and dry. I've skipped this in the past and they end up mushy and not at all crisp. Once dry, toss your seeds in a mixing bowl with your spice combo, until thoroughly coated. I didn't measure my spices, so go by personal preference, but you want them nice a coated. You can always add more salt later, but really coat them in the other spices.
Throw the seeds into your air fryer basket, give them another toss, and cook for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
They're loaded with protein, healthy fiber, and fat, and a lot less sodium and calories than the oily, storebought type. 1996-era me would have approved, and I know you will too.
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