Hors D'Oeuvres & First Courses The Book

67. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds p.5

The recipe is just like this one from Epicurious, except that The Book gives proportions for the ingredients. I think the Epicurious version is more honest. This is barely even a recipe. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet ’till they’re browned and smell good, toss with olive oil and sea salt. That’s it.

Despite it’s tenuous recipe status, I’m glad it was in there. I probably wouldn’t have remembered how delicious toasted pumpkin seeds are, and never would have thought to put them out for guests. I ate some of them warm , and some at room temperature the next day. They’re totally delicious either way. I find the flavour of pumpkin seeds hard to pin down, they’re nutty, and they do have squashy pumpkin flavours, plus a whole other level of aromas that make them their own. You could serve sunflower seeds like this, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

Finding fresh green pumpkin seeds wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. My grocery store carries them sporadically, and the ones at the health food store sometimes look a little ratty. The Book warns that pumpkin seeds spoil quickly, so a place with high turnover is key. They’re frequently used in Mexican cuisine, so a latino food shop might be the way to go to find a good fresh supply.

Since pumpkin sees freeze well I’ve taken to keeping a bag on hand. The Book seems to call for them fairly frequently, and I’ll never be without a tried-and-true last minute appetizer if friends drop by unexpectedly.

Salads The Book

24. Green Bean Salad With Pumpkin Seed Dressing p.143

the recipe

I love cold green bean salads, they’re so quintessentially French countryside. When I’m eating them I can’t help but feel I’m sitting in the back garden of the old farmhouse, outside Lyons, I stayed at one summer as a teenager.

This dish wasn’t particularly French, or entirely what I expected it to be, but that’s all right. I think the word “salad” threw me off a bit here. I was expecting the dressing to turn out like a vinaigrette, but it’s actually more of a pesto; very thick and densely coating the green beans. The ingredients in the dressing are straight out of the classic vinaigrette textbook: oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic, olive oil. But there’s a detour via Mexico with pumpkin seeds, cumin, and cilantro. I found that the flavour was quite good, if a bit heavy on the cumin, but the texture was off. The dressing came out kind of lumpy and goopy. I didn’t think that it worked too well with the beans. There was also far too much dressing for the amount of beans they called for. If I were to make this again I’d toast the pumpkin seeds and scatter them over the beans without putting them through the blender. I’m sure the dressing would come together nicely without them.

The beans were nicely crisp-tender, and the flavour deserves high marks. I also appreciate the Franco-Mexican fusion concept going on here. It’s really the texture that prevents me from giving this the rating it might otherwise have earned.