Thursday, June 17, 2010

Seed love

L-R: Pumpkin seeds roasted with olive oil & soy sauce, toasted sunflower seeds & pine nuts (actually a seed rather than nut, despite the name) and toasted sesame seeds

At the risk of sounding like a total hippy (not that there's anything wrong with that!), I love seeds. And I've been finding myself using them more and more in cooking for the family lately. I also love all kinds of nuts, but they're not so easy to cook with in our house with my big girl being allergic to them.

This particular cooking obsession really took off recently when my local green grocer had a special on pumpkins. I took home a lovely big butternut with a view to either roasting, steaming and making soup with it, or a bit of all. I made pumpkin soup for dinner (which the girls were not crazy about :-(, and thought I'd roast the many seeds inside as a garnish. Of course I googled it (why can't I seem to do anything without googling it first these days, is it just me?!) and found this, which mentioned boiling the seeds before roasting. This made all the difference to previous attempts which were chewy and not great. They come out crunchy and delicious, and are even more delicious with a little soy sauce splashed over before going into the oven (though watch the salt content as the soy obviously ups it quite a bit). The garnish turned out to be much more popular than the meal, and whenever I've made them since there's almost been a fight between us all for who gets more*!

So for dinner last night I made this salad, inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe I saw in a delicious magazine. I threw in what I had to hand and it came out pretty well. In it was:
• roasted pumpkin cubes
• roasted fresh beetroot (wrap in foil and cook til tender)
• steamed green beans
• some baby cos leaves
• cucumber slices
• and of course the seeds (see pic at top)
It would definitely have benefited from some lovely cubes of fetta, but alas we had none and the thought of dragging all 3 to the shops just for this was not on the cards :-)

I dressed it with a home made red wine vinaigrette. The girls actually ate this, with big girl eating her seeds first then asking for "more beetroot mama!". I served it with crusty bread and lentil shepherds pie - more hippy food.

* post script: I have realised that all pumpkin seeds are not equal! Butternut pumpkin seeds cook quickly as they are smaller and more tender certainly than the seeds from varieties such as Queensland Blues. These needs much longer boiling, otherwise they're just too tough and chewy, rather than crunchy and crispy.

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