Last year, around this time, I was listening to an interview on one of NPR’s noon shows – “Here and Now” – and the host was way over-excited (I thought maybe NPR had become X-rated, or I was off the dial just a tad to an X-rated station – that’s how excited the host was as she was tasting the sample of the recipe they were talking about). Turns out, she was eating pumpkin seed brittle. And, so, well …. I had to have what she was having. I went to the link for this show on Cooking with Kathy Gunst, and pulled off the recipe for Pumpkin Seed Brittle, from My New Orleans cookbook by John Besh. The show was actually on Cookbooks for the Cooks in your Life, and this link features other recipes and cookbooks (and even though the other recipes look intriguing, Pumpkin Seed Brittle is all we’ve made from that show) as well as several from this New Orleans cookbook.
Here’s the recipe for PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE:
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces pumpkin seeds (I use the already-salted and roasted ones from World Market, so eliminate the above-mentioned salt in my recipe)
1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 375. Mix together the sugar, cayenne, salt, and pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg white in a mixing bowl until foamy (I often whisk mine too far into the stiff zone, so try to be more cautious about that – it just changes the texture if you whisk them too much), but not stiff. Fold the egg white into the pumpkin seeds.
Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Spread the brittle mixture thinly and evenly on the silicon mat and bake until the brittle turns completely golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to let cool. Break the brittle roughly into 2-inch shards.
It looks kind of like this when you put it into the oven:
After it’s cooled down and you break it into little pieces, it looks like this:
The picture on the above link, by the way, looks way better, because I, ummm, whipped my egg white too stiff this time.
And what does one do with pumpkin seed brittle? It’s quite yummy all by itself, but we love it on salads. In fact, the recipe from the New Orleans Cookbook actually includes a pumpkin and walnut seed oil vinaigrette for a salad with baby greens, chives, and blue cheese. During the spring and summer, we use it as a kind of crouton-y topping on lettuce salads. It adds this flavorful kick of sweet/salty/spicy/crunchy to all kinds of salads, including our favorite – beets with goat cheese, orange vinaigrette, and lavender petals. I know. I know. Beet salads with goat cheese are so passé, according to all the foodie experts, but, because we have half a freezer-full of beets, we will continue being foodie-outdated, ’cause, well, beet & goat cheese salad (with pumpkin seed brittle, of course) is just, as Alton Brown (love his show) would say – Good Eats!