Latin Twist: Light, Crunchy, Delicioso–Toasted Pumpkin Seed Snack


So many snacks, so little time! This snack—Pepitas—toasted pumpkin seeds—is quite different from the merienda I mentioned last week, though both are   Mexican-born bites. I like pepitas on their own; as I said in my Wednesday’s In the Kitchen with Arlen entry, sometimes less is so much more! But, well, as always, I leave you to discover ways in which you might incorporate them into your menu. You can enjoy these crunchy and savory-meets-sweet-and-somewhat-spicy treat as a snack, put them on top of a salad, blended into pesto, mixed up with rice, pasta—and more. Actually—have to tell you—when my kids were little, I packed ‘em up in an airtight container for a school time snack. (And, my friends, I promise that when I grow up and get my bar, they’ll be there for all that come to imbibe!)

But back to pepitas, the nice thing about them is that you can vary them according to what you’re in the mood for. For example, I sometimes like ‘em pretty spicy…with a bit more of chipotle than most. But you can always tone that down, and bring up the salt , sugar, and garlic (and please, you can’t go wrong with those three elements!). Also, you can make them and keep them—as long as they’re airtight—for up to a week. A friend of mine used to freeze them, and then pull them out to top a salad!

Do let me know how you enjoy them!  ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Latin Twist: Toasted Pumpkin Seed Snack

Latin Twist: Toasted Pumpkin Seed Snack

Adapted from Mambo Mixers,© 2005, Arlen Gargagliano


  • 1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon puréed (or finely diced) chipotle en adobo (available at Viva Grande in New Rochelle, and many other markets!), or according to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Turbinado sugar
  • 1 lime wedge (optional)


  1. Heat a medium size heavy frying pan, and pour in the pumpkin seeds. Let toast for about five minutes, stirring frequently so they don't burn. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes; you'll see that they're starting to brown. After several are looking toasty (but again, not burnt!) Turn the heat off. Add the chipotle, salt, and sugar and mix well so that all the seeds are coated. Transfer them into a bowl. Serve immediately, or let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Before serving, shake (to get the salt and sugar from the bottom, and , if you'd like, squeeze the wedge of lime on top.


About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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