I still dream of the colors and smells of Mexico City where I spent countless hours, over many years, wandering through the markets and street stands. From the market of San Angel in the Southwestern part of the city making my way east to the La Merced market in the historical center of the Zocalo, I would get lost among the spices, chilies and seeds, all used for the elaborate dishes that continue to be unknown as Mexican cuisine in the U.S.
This is where I met and fell in love with “pepitas” or pumpkin seeds along with the many culinary and homeopathic uses. Whether used in sauces like mole or pipian or in candy with chilies or in “liquados”, the benefits of these miraculous seeds extend beyond pleasuring the palette.
One quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium which creates ATP (Adensine Triphosphate) that creates energy in the body along with zinc for cell growth and division which regulates sleep and mood. It also helps regulate insulin levels in the body and is good for the health of eyes and skin.
Last but not least it is one of the best sources of plant-based Omega-3 fats for the autoimmune system as well as for the prevention of heart disease and cancer.
I like to toast pumpkins seeds (reserving the oil for cooking or for dressings) when using them on salads and as a garnish on soups. You can also sprout them and use them raw in smoothies and sauces.
At the restaurant, we often use toasted pumpkin seeds in a ground form as a coating to jazz up salmon filets. It is the perfect gluten-fee, non-nut crunchy coating resulting in a flavorful crust that can be served on a salad or with vegetables and steamed organic brown rice and if you want an order, reserve it because we sell out of it every weekend!
Slightly toast a half cup of raw pumpkin seeds by spreading onto a cookie sheet drizzled with a quarter cup of either olive oil or coconut oil.
Sprinkle with NF Sea Salt and place in the oven at 425 for about seven minutes.
Remove pan from oven and allow to cool. Use a slotted spoon to remove the seeds from the oil. You will place the seeds in the food processor and pulse a few times until your have a coarse meal.
You will pour the oil (without) the seeds into a glass jar and use to sauté your salmon or other fish filet. This is also a perfect coating for blackfish or bluefish.
Portion your filets and add salt to taste. Heat your large sauté pan using the pumpkin oil and then coat your filets with the pumpkin by pushing them into the meal.
Cook on the filet side first for 2 to 3 minutes and then flip onto skin side for another 2 to 3 minutes and finish in the oven for another 2 to 3 minutes depending on the temperature you prefer.
Serve with sautéed seasonal veggies and some brown rice. Pair with Lieb Cellars Chardonnay.