Take advantage of all the festive pumpkin carving this month — repurpose your leftover pumpkin seeds for a roasted treat rather than ditching them in the trash. While pumpkin seeds are certainly a satisfying snack all on their own, incorporate them into a meal, such as this Harvest Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Maple Vinaigrette.
Known as one of nature’s most perfect foods, pumpkin seeds contain concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. They have been used to treat high cholesterol and arthritis, as well as prevent prostrate cancer and osteoporosis. More to the culinary point, pumpkiin seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and bring a crunchy element to a salad. The crunch of the roasted pepitas is a perfect balance to the dried cranberries, juicy red grapes, buttery avocado and salty gorgonzola in this salad.
Follow the instructions below to roast your own pumpkin seeds this season. These seeds are generally roasted directly from the pumpkin — however, for use in this Harvest Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Maple Vinaigrette, it is better to hull the outer seeds and only roast the internal green kernels, otherwise known as pepitas. In salads, pepitas taste much like sunflower seeds and are easier on the teeth without the outer shell. (Don’t have the time or patience to hull pumpkin seeds? You can still purchase pepitas in most stores.)
- 1/3 cup roasted pepitas (recipe follows)
- 1 pear, sliced
- 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1/3 cup gorgonzola
- 1 package spring greens
- 1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp coarse ground dijon mustard
- 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Break the pumpkin seeds using a hammer or rolling pin. Next, drop the pumpkin seeds in a pail or large bowl; vigorously shake to loosen the kernels. (The seeds will sink while the shells will float.) Manually hull any that have not fully separated.
Add the pepitas, olive oil, sea salt and garlic powder in a bowl, and toss to combine. Spread evenly on a lined baking sheet. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until toasted golden in color (toss seeds halfway through for even baking). Set aside to cool.
Combine the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly until completely mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to use.
In a large bowl, combine the spring greens, roasted pumpkin seeds, pear, grapes, avocado, celery and gorgonzola. Toss with the desired amount of maple vinaigrette, and reserve the remaining dressing in the refrigerator. Serve immediately.