I’ve got a pumpkin post happening here, something just a little bit different, and I’m going to do it without talk about that ubiquitous harbinger of autumn – pumpkin spice. Nope, instead I’m going to work in something better, something more interesting – five spice powder. As for the pumpkin, I’m going beyond the ever present can of puree, beyond the jack-o-lantern and roast a real pumpkin, in nice pretty chunks and put it on top of oatmeal. Yeah, I’m pushing oatmeal too. Oh, it’s getting a little crazy around here.
Last January I visited friends in Dubai; such a fascinating place. My friend is a chef so everyday, where and what we ate was of high priority. One morning we went to a hip brunch place and I ordered something I don’t usually, oatmeal. I can say with 100% certainty that I have never ordered oatmeal in a restaurant. Never. But there was something about the menu description that appealed to me. Steel cut oats, roasted pumpkin and a pumpkinseed granola. It sounded interesting, so I ordered it.
When our plates came, I looked at my bowl of brown stuff and then looked across the table longingly at my friends biscuit breakfast sandwich. A massice wave of order envy immediately engulfed me but persevere I did and took a spoonful. Huh. Quite nice. The oats were creamy with a wonderful chew, topped with soft, caramelized bits of squash and a generous handful of crunchy, oaty pumpkin seed studded granola. A thick drizzle of maple syrup tied it all together. To my surprise, I cleaned my plate and felt pretty good about it. For once, I actually ate a substantial yet fairly healthy breakfast and laid a successful base for what turned into another day of marathon eating. I didn’t have a sugar crash an hour later, nor did I feel the need to immediately take a nap. Well done.
I filed the idea away in the deep recesses of my brain but I didn’t get around to attempting the dish upon my return. Now that it’s fall and the squash and pumpkins are piled high, I pulled the idea out of the mental archives. While at the farmers market last weekend, I picked up a small pie pumpkin with the intention of recreating this dish. So I did.
Let me just set some expectations here. This one is a bit involved. It is not difficult but it does have 3 distinct recipes that take some time, though 2 of the 3 can be done ahead. It is a brunch type dish for a long leisurely weekend, not something you may necessarily have the time nor the inclination to whip up on a random Wednesday morning. That said, there are techniques and ideas that can be worked into your busy weekday life. The oats, for example, are delicious and can easily be popped into a jar to be eaten later at your desk. The squash is an unusual topper – full of fiber and beta-carotene, a touch sweet to make it palatable but yet, a touch savory, a welcome and unusual change from the standard bits of whatnot. And the crumble? Good lord, it is tasty. Throw a handful on your yogurt or bowl of berries and you’re good to go.
Don’t have or can’t find a fresh pumpkin? Use a butternut squash or even a sweet potato. Or hell, roast some apples or pears in this manner. As mentioned I use five spice powder, a mix of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns. It is so much more interesting than pumpkin spice. Trust me on this.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: Not many of us take the time to make a good, healthy, decent breakfast. I rarely do so for all the usual excuses: too busy, don’t eat in the morning, blah, blah, blah. This week I slowed down. I spent some time cooking up a big pot of creamy, slow cooked oatmeal. It was delicious and gave me a surprisingly amount of energy. I didn’t crave sugar mid-day, well not as much as I usually do, and I made it through to lunch without wanting to gnaw my hand off. I felt good. Damn. That’s what a good breakfast does, huh?
Other pumpkin/squash recipes: Baked Squash Bread Pudding (in a whole squash!), Kale & Squash Salad, Roasted Delicata Squash – 4 Ways, Squash & Onion Tart, Maple Mustard Glazed Delicata, Brussels Sprouts & Shallots, Pumpkin Hummus
Seven years ago: Lamb & Ale Stew
Six years ago: Blue Cheese Dressing with a Wedge Salad
Five years ago: Maple Buttermilk Spoonbread with Glazed Pears
Four years ago: Unprocessed October
Three years ago: Maple Bourbon Carrots, Sunday Lunch Ramen
Two years ago: Sherry Candied Walnut Salad
Last year: Simple Apple Tarts
CREAMY STEEL CUT OATS WITH ROASTED PUMPKIN AND PUMPKIN SEED CRUMBLE
for the pumpkin seed crumble:
2 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup
2 ¼ teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
good pinch of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon five spice powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons pecans, chopped
for the roasted pumpkin:
2 pound fresh sugar or pie pumpkin, seeded, peeled & cut in 1” pieces
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon five spice powder
pinch of kosher salt
for the steel cut oats:
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon five spice powder
pinch of kosher salt
- For the pumpkin seed crumble: Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower position.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and five spice and cinnamon until well blended (If your coconut oil is solid, warm it gently in the microwave until pourable.) Make sure to dissolve or break up any brown sugar clumps if needed. The mixture should be smooth.
- Add the oats and stir until evenly coated.
- Turn out onto a rimmed sheet pan, spreading to an even layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes, stir and continue baking for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, add the pecans and pumpkin seeds, stir to combine and bake for another 10 minutes until dry and crispy. If still a bit moist and soft, bake in additional 5 minute increments until dry.
- Once the mixture has cooled, store in an airtight container. Do ahead: the crumble can be made and tightly stored up to 2 months.
- For the roasted pumpkin: preheat the oven to 400°F and line a heavy sheet pan with foil.
- Quarter, seed and carefully peel the pumpkin then cut into 1″ cubes.
- In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin chunks with the brown sugar, maple syrup, melted butted, five spice, cinnamon and salt to coat.
- Turn the coated pumpkin onto the prepared pan and spread into a single layer.
- Roast for 10 minutes, give the pumpkin a stir (a lot of liquid will have filled the pan – all ok)
- Increase the temperature to 450°F and roast for another 10 minutes.
- Give the pumpkin a stir and roast for another 5 minutes until the liquid has thickened and turned syrup and the pumpkin is tender.
- Set aside until needed. Do ahead: the pumpkin can be roasted up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm before serving.
- For the oats: In a large saucepot, melt the butter and add the oats.
- Stir for 2 minutes to toast.
- Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Keep at a low simmer for 20-25 minutes, without stirring.
- Add the milk, maple syrup and five spice to the oats and stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. The oats will be tender but have a pleasantly chewy texture. They will thicken as they sit; stir in additional milk if you’d like them a bit looser and creamier. The oats are best made fresh but you could cook them the evening before and reheat with a little additional milk until loose and creamy.
- To serve: Spoon the oats into a serving bowl and top with the roasted pumpkin, a drizzle of maple syrup and a handful of the pumpkin seed crumble.