pepitas w/ lime and smoked paprika

A couple of Fridays ago, for the final meeting of Anthropology of Food, we had a "last meal" of sorts. We split into groups and had to come up with a course (we had appetizers) that had some type of anthropological focus. One group made complete obentos for everyone, based on an article we read titled "Japanese Mothers and Obentos: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus." Another made the panzanella and pâté recipes from the book "Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence," by Carole Counihan, one of the professors of the course. There were stuffed tomatoes (based on an article about women workers in the tomato food chain) and cupcakes (about the gendering of cupcakes). And there was lots of wine.

Our group also focused on gender, in this case having students create "male" and "female" crostini using a bunch of ingredients we brought in - spinach, garlic, soft cheese, hard cheese, onions, cilantro, pepperoni spread, lemon vinegar, chili oil, bacon, pepper jelly, olives, cream cheese, mustard, apples, pears, sun-dried tomatoes and a bunch of other stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting. We then discussed why people chose certain ingredients for their male crostini (hard cheese, garlic, pepperoni spread, bacon) versus their female crostini (soft cheese, spinach, apples and pears). Why is spicy male and sweet female? Why is meat male and fruit female? And we discussed some articles, including two I read: one about male vegetarians in Australia and the other about gender-related changes to consumption in post-Communist Czech Republic.

Anyway, what this has to do with pepitas: that Friday was also the last day for some of the student workers in our office, so we had a lunch party planned for them. Between the crostini thing and final papers and finding out we were bringing in food for the party at the last minute, I needed something quick. So I bought a bag of potato chips and called it a day. It's my new thing: Not Even 30% Homemade with Michael K.

No, I was at the store getting stuff for the crostini and I saw a display of pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. I figured I could roast them up with some spices and it would be easy and fast. I ended up mixing a pound of pepitas with the zest and juice of three limes and a tablespoon each of salt and smoked paprika and it was great - deeply toasted, lightly smoky, a bit of salt and bright with citrus.

There, that's the recipe. See how easy? You don't even need a recipe. But I'll write it out just in case it makes you feel better.

pepitas w/ lime and smoked paprika

+ 1 pound shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
+ zest of 3 medium limes
+ juice of 2-3 limes
+ 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
+ 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the pepitas, lime zest, lime juice (add enough so the pepitas are covered but not drowning in liquid), smoked paprika and salt until the pepitas are coated.

Spread the pepitas evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once or so, until they are deep and dark - almost burnt. You want them to be nicely charred to get a smoky, dry, roasty flavor.

Cool and serve.