When it comes to jack-o’-lanterns, the guts are the glory. Whether your kids favor a jaunty, crooked smile or a menacing grimace, every Halloween pumpkin sacrificed for a doorstep decoration has a treasure hidden inside. Tangled up inside those wet, slimy strings (sometimes called “pumpkin brains”) are the seeds, which roast up beautifully into a savory snack that perfectly compliments the endless stream of Halloween treats.
And if you start kids off by setting the oven to the correct temperature, they can do the rest of the work—without a recipe. Since it’s likely your kids will already have their tiny hands in the pumpkin to help scoop out the guts before carving, they can take the lead on this activity. Have them separate the seeds from the strings, dropping the seeds into a strainer. (Those little guys are slippery, so be prepared for some to go rogue—that’s half the fun.) Rinse the seeds (again, little hands are great for this), swishing the seeds around to separate out any remaining pumpkin bits. Dump the clean seeds onto a clean kitchen towel and blot dry. You want the seeds very dry before you roast them so they pick up a nice golden color.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Toss the seeds in a drizzle of olive oil or a couple teaspoons of melted butter, then salt liberally. Ask your kids what flavors they think would pair well with the mild, nutty flavor of the seeds, and let them experiment. (This sweet and salty version or a savory take with garlic and Parmesan are good inspirations if you’re drawing a blank.) Roast the seeds for about 45 minutes, stirring them around the pan occasionally. Check them every 5 minutes once you’ve hit the 30-minute mark—the seeds burn easily and take on an acrid flavor if you let them go too long.
Once they are a golden color, remove, cool, then snack away—hopefully to the flickering candlelight of your jack-o’-lantern pal.
Little Sous tip: Have the whole family guess the number of seeds inside the pumpkin, then count them before roasting. The winner gets to choose what’s for dinner!