At the market the other day, a streak of orange peeked out from beneath a table. I inquired after it, this first pumpkin of the season, startled to see it arrive so soon.
It was a Brazilian variety, the seller told me, an earlier squash than the Americans grow. It was perfectly round, on the small side, with a strong stem and deep grooves. He said it was good for cooking, a nice addition to a tray of muffins or the sizzling griddle of a waffle iron.
I took it home that morning and sliced it open. The seeds were astonishing: thick, plump, pale little tears, packed in like so many rows of dangling teeth. I scooped them out, washed them, and set the pepitas to dry. By morning, with the pumpkin roasted and tucked away for muffin batter, I shook the seeds from their cloth and fired up the flame beneath a wide, black skillet.
With cast iron hot, the flurry of seeds hit the dry heat and began slowly to crack and pop into hard, golden snacks. Flicking my arm back and forth across the flame, I shook them until the last seed was a deep yellow brown. Finally, I sprinkled them with a bit of salt, and left the bunch to cool. Tomorrow, they'll grace my salad.
Remove, clean, and spread on a dishcloth pumpkin, butternut squash, or other seeds from the Cucurbitaceae family. Let dry overnight. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium flame, and begin toasting seeds, shaking or stirring constantly to prevent burning. When seeds begin to pop and turn golden, they are done. Season with salt to taste. Store in airtight container in cupboard for up to three months and in the refrigerator for up to a year.