Green pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are really wonderful and versatile. When you roast them in a skillet, they pop. With a little salt and pepper, they are great to eat. A favorite at parties, I sometimes add spices, like ground cumin and coriander, while they are roasting. Being a seed, pepitas contain lots of trace minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc; they are also a decent source of protein and monounsaturated fats. Look for pepitas in the bulk section of any health food store and some grocery stores.
I had an amazing sous chef at Val 21 named Tai Leavitt; not only was she speedy quick on the line (a skill I never mastered) but very creative. Tai developed a Pepita Pesto* recipe for chicken which was a huge hit. Recently, this salad served as a hearty side dish at our table; very, very tasty.
Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad with Pepitas Dressing
1/2 cup raw green pumpkin seeds
1 small clove garlic
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
1 lb. fresh green beans, steamed crisp tender, allow to cool slightly
(Try a bag of those handy greens beans that you can steam in your microwave)
1 Pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Toast the pumpkins seeds in a large pan. They will be done once they start to make a popping noise and are lightly golden. Set aside 2 Tbsp. of seeds and place the rest in a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the green beans and tomatoes. Process until smooth. Place the green beans and cherry tomatoes into a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top. Toss well, garnish with reserved pumpkin seeds and serve.
*Pepita Pesto will be featured in a future post.