Pumpkin-Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Inspired by the Novel 'Small Spaces'

Pumpkin-Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Inspired by the Novel 'Small Spaces'

Wednesday, 28 October, 2020

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


One of the best parts of carving a jack-o’-lantern is noshing on the roasted seeds when the face-carving is done. These pepitas are salty, crunchy, and made festive with pumpkin-spice blend and a little bit of heat. Perfect for Halloween snacking.

Also perfect for Halloween: the YA horror novel Small Spaces. It’s the bookish equivalent of an imaginary film written by Steven King and directed by Steven Spielberg. And it features, in no particular order, a specter known as ‘the smiling man,’ a farm called Smoke Hollow, potentially sinister graves, ominous advice from untrustworthy adults, a broken (significant) wristwatch, a field of observant scarecrows, and much more.

Plus, our heroine Ollie is a girl we can root for. She loves to read, and when circumstances get a bit dire — in a spooky corn maze! — she rises to the occasion.

We recommend you roast a batch of these Pumpkin-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds to nibble on while you read Ollie’s adventures. (And carry some pumpkin seeds in your pocket for fuel on your own Halloween capers.)


When you’ve carved jack-o’-lanterns in the past, you’ve probably roasted those fibrous, pale seeds you scoop out with the pumpkin guts. It’s fine to eat those white husks, but the tiny nut inside — the pepitas — is the true prize.

Pepitas are nibbled all over the world! They were valued by Native American tribes for their medicinal properties, and in India and Asia, they’re still used for that purpose (Fun fact: China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country.) In Greece, pepitas are given the name passatempo (‘pastime’).

If you want to give these a try, you can use the spice blend below on the big white seeds you pull from the pumpkin, or you can be lazy-practical and buy raw or roasted pepitas from the store. These are delicious on their own and add a nice crunch to salads and soups. You might also sprinkle ‘em on a baked sweet potato with butter and a little maple syrup.

Pumpkin-Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes 2 cups. Prep 5 minutes. Bake 12 minutes.


  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 2 cups pepitas (raw or roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Prep. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Make the spice blend. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cayenne. Stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from heat.

Toss it up. Place the pepitas in a large mixing bowl. Pour the spiced butter over the pepitas, add the sugar and salt, then toss to combine.

Bake. Spread the pepitas on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast until slightly toasted, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

When the mist rises, and the smiling man comes walking, you must avoid large places at night. Keep to small. — Katherine Arden

Small Spaces

by Katherine Arden

The story begins on Halloween in the suburbs. Homes are decorated, jack-o-lanterns are lit, everyone’s ready for doorbell ringing and candy distribution. And that’s when we meet Ollie. She’s 11 years old, she loves to read, and she’s had a very bad day. On the way to her secret reading spot by the river, she spies a mysterious woman, crying, and about to throw a book into the water. Book-loving Ollie cannot abide by this action. She grabs the book and runs away. As she begins to read the chilling story, she’s drawn into a hair-raising tale of two brothers, a young-love triangle, and a sinister entity — and all of these people may be real. {more}

This middle-grade horror novel (224 pages) was published in September of 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. The book takes you to Halloween in Smoke Hollow. David read Small Spaces and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Small Spaces


Top image courtesy of Goldeen Hour/Unsplash.

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