After a long day hiking, fishing, or swinging in a hammock, you need to recharge before lighting a fire and jumping on dinner. One of our favorite campsite snacks are these salty-spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds. But they aren’t the ones that come from jack-o-lanterns. Beneath that tough white hull is a tender green pepita—the same seed that is used in many moles. Pepitas have a grassy, nutty flavor that’s not as heavy as nuts but takes well to all sorts of seasonings. And they puff up and pop when toasted. You can usually find them in bulk food sections or Hispanic groceries. If you can’t find (or don’t fancy) pumpkin seeds, substitute unsalted peanuts, sunflower seeds, or any nut really.
Makes 2 cups
1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
- Set a large dry skillet over medium heat and add the pumpkin seeds and peanuts. Cook, shaking the pan once in a while and adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until you hear a couple pop, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar and oil and keep cooking, tossing with a spatula, until the sugar begins to melt and the seeds turn brown, just another minute or so. (Be careful not to have the heat up so high they start to burn.) Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Let cool, then transfer to a small glass jar. (You can make Mex Mix up to 3 days before your trip.)
- Make a refreshing beverage, plop down in a camp chair, open the jar, and spoon some into your hand.
- You probably won’t have leftovers. In fact, you’ll probably want to double the recipe next time out.
- But on the odd chance there are a few stragglers left, they’ll add a nice little crunch to Picnic Pico. If there are any seasonings at the bottom of the jar, you can sprinkle them on buttered toast in the morning. Kinda like eating a spicy donut.
Mex Mix makes an awesome guac topper, like the fried grasshoppers traditional in some parts of Latin America, but less “adventurous.” So save some to sprinkle over Guacamole just before serving.