Roasted Cantaloupe Seeds and Spiced Nuts

It has been nearly two years since I mercilessly mocked Fred for thinking that you could roast cantaloupe seeds and was humbled to discover that indeed you could. Now Fred’s quiet triumph is fully complete: I’ve made them, and they’re good.

It started with an impromptu evening with friends last month. Deciding at work to have guests for cocktails and snacks, and having no time to go to the store, I reviewed the pitiful contents of our cupboard as soon as I got home.

There were truffles left over from Christmas, a bit of cheese, and pretzels. There were also several items inexplicably stored in the freezer, perhaps in the faint hope of miraculously improving their quality: rum cake whose unthawed state was distinguishable from its frozen one only by its warmth; Amish Friendship Bread that I’d tried to turn into a cake, which when originally served had most closely resembled two large, round, stale Twinkies encased in chocolate frosting; and homemade wheat bread that had the taste and texture of sawdust suspended in a loaf of Wonder.

In the bottom drawer, however, underneath the vodka bottle and a roast, I hit pay dirt: pecans. It was time for Susan Koenig’s Spiced Nuts.

I’ve lost touch with Susan, but she was a fellow graduate student in the University of Madison English department with me in the 1990s. These nuts were a party staple and a great version of the concept–spicy with just hint of sweet. Here’s the recipe.

Susan Koenig’s Spiced Nuts

2 1/2 c. nuts of your choice (Susan ususally mixes pecans, almonds, and cashews)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (Susan recommends peanut, but I’ve used just about everything)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300. Place nuts in a bowl. Pour oil into small heavy saucepan and place over medium-low heat until warm. Add cumin and cayenne and stir until mixture is aromatic, about 15 seconds. Pour flavored oil over nuts. Add sugar and salt to coat evenly. Transfer to baking pan and spread out. Bake, stirring occasionally, until nuts are toasted, about 20 minutes. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks. Rewarm before on baking sheet in 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

As our friends sat around our living room that evening, devouring this wonderful snack, I went into the kitchen to get beverage reinforcements. And I noticed the cantaloupe from our CSA, Britt Farms, sitting plumply on the counter. And a light bulb came on.

I’d been dumping the seeds from our farm cantaloupe into the trash. Suddenly, though, with the taste of those spiced nuts rolling around on my palate, it occured to me that Susan’s spice combination would be perfect on those seeds.

Then came the sickening, slowly dawning horror that this could be a case where Fred was right.

I roasted the seeds anyway. I even let Fred eat them.


Spicy Roasted Cantaloupe Seeds

Seeds from 2 cantaloupes, rinsed and drained (no need to remove all the pulp; it roasts nicely. Seeds can be stored in refrigerator for a week or so, until you have collected enough to use.)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Place seeds in a bowl. Pour oil into small heavy saucepan and place over medium-low heat until warm. Add cumin and cayenne and stir until mixture is aromatic, about 15 seconds. Pour flavored oil over seeds. Add sugar and salt to coat. Transfer to baking pan and spread out. Bake, stirring occasionally, until seeds are toasted, about 20 minutes. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

4 thoughts on “Roasted Cantaloupe Seeds and Spiced Nuts

  1. Thanks! I removed the majority of the pulp (just use a bowl of water and squish the seeds around in your hands – the seeds float and pulp sinks) and only roasted mine for 10 minutes. They're so good!

  2. I did this on the stovetop with olive oil, garlic salt, a little tiny bit of sugar and fresh ground pepper. The seeds will 'pop' but are not fluffy like popcorn – watch out for splattering oil!

  3. cover your pan in parchment paper and spread your seeds onto that. you can avoid stirring the seeds and having to clean the pan.

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