Toasting seeds and nuts in your wood fired oven is a great way to take advantage of down cycle heat. You may not have any pumpkin seeds left from Thanksgiving, but don’t forget squash seeds. Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash have nutritious seeds that a little toasting transforms into delicious snacks and salad additions.
This year we enjoyed toasting seeds and nuts in the oven. After roasting pumpkins for our pumpkin blog, we roasted spaghetti squash to make a favorite side dish, and toasted pans of pumpkin seeds, spaghetti squash seeds, and a pan of slivered almonds. We tossed seeds in oil and the almonds in butter then dusted them with sea salt. On the down cycle heat, I found that toasting the seeds and nuts was leisurely, so I had good control over the degree of color.
Toasting seeds–taste test
In a taste test, we found that spaghetti squash seeds were just as delicious, if not more so than the pumpkin seeds. The toasted almonds browned beautifully, and I’ve used them all as snacks, toppers for veggies and salads.
SwankyRecipes.com features 10 different toasted pumpkin seed recipes. Toasted seeds make beautiful gifts and most of these recipes would work with a variety of squash seeds. TheKitchen.com has great ideas for using pumpkin seeds. Toasted seeds and nuts make beautiful homemade gifts.
Toasting seeds, nuts, and grains–granola
In preparing this blog on toasting seeds and nuts in a wood-fired oven, I toasted one of my favorite granolas and compared it with baking the same granola in a standard oven. The recipe baked in a standard oven at low temperature (250) requires 90 minutes with a stir every 30 minutes and that’s it. We toasted the granola at a comparatively high heat in the early portion of a down-cycle (around 400-500°). Toasting seeds, nuts or granola at higher temps requires more active watching but the flavor and speed made it worthwhile. It quickly browned and I did a few stirs to make sure all the oats were toasted and headed toward crunchy.
Within about 20 minutes the whole place smelled delicious and we pulled out a tray of beautifully toasted granola, ready to cool and then have cranberries added.
The most significant difference was not the time, but the taste! Just like toasting seeds and nuts to develop flavor, the granola was noticeably more flavorful with better color and crunch. This recipe makes a single batch, but we toasted a double recipe in a large rimmed pan.
Maple Walnut Granola Recipe
4 Cups rolled oats
1 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup maple syrup
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
Mix the oats, oat bran and walnuts in a large bowl.
Mix the olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a separate container and pour over the oats.
Bake on a lightly oiled, rimmed cookie sheet for 90 minutes in a conventional oven set at 250 degrees. Stir every 30 minutes. Cool the granola and add the cranberries.
Or, better yet, toast in a lightly oiled, rimmed baking pan in a wood-fired oven. Watch the oats and nuts brown, and stir to distribute the oats that need browning. Cool the granola and add the cranberries.