While I may never attempt to deconstruct tarts, masquerade zucchini for noodles or do a rainbow sprinkled-anything, pumpkin spice is definitely a clichéd food trend I can get behind. Agreed that their cult status is a bit of an overkill, but there’s no denying that some flavour combinations just work. And in my opinion, as passé as pumpkin spice may be, it’s definitely one that works. Also I think it’s obvious by now that I’m anything but a ‘relevant’ cook (I mean, I made a broccoli casserole with garlic bread for lunch yesterday).
When you undertake the task of making pumpkin purée, it definitely makes sense to make a double batch (quantities mentioned below are for a double batch). Not because it’s hard by any means, but because it’ll keep well in the fridge for up to a week. And you may as well optimize the cooking time and the effort of hacking into a wedge of pumpkin. I pressure cook the pumpkin pieces with spices—ginger, cinnamon and cloves—and then mash them with the spices to extract maximum flavour. Then fish them out with your fingers and discard them. Not that I ever need a reason to get my hands into my food, but this opportunity presented itself and of course I dove right in. Alternatively, tie up the spices in a piece of muslin and remove and discard after the pumpkin is cooked. No fun this, but it’ll get the job done.
If you, like me, are constantly striving to add more veggies into your diet, this is one sure shot way of starting your day off right. I use steel cut oats. I like their nutty flavour and substantial texture, and also they are better for you nutritionally than the other kinds (they’re the least processed). Rolled and instant oats would also work though if that’s what you have on hand. Steel cut oats take longer to cook than their rolled/instant counterparts so soak them overnight in water (in the fridge) to soften. You’ll still need to cook them the next day but it’ll reduce cooking time significantly.
PUMPKIN SPICE OATMEAL
Pumpkin purée: (makes a double batch)
- 500 grams pumpkin, cubed
- 1 cinnamon stick or 3 pieces of cassia (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder)
- 12 cloves
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- ½ cup steel cut oats (see notes)
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Soak the steel cut oats overnight in 2 cups of water.
- Bruise the ginger with the flat of your knife. Add pumpkin pieces, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger to a pressure cooker or pot with ¼ cup water. Cook until the pumpkin pieces are tender and a knife goes through without any resistance.
- Mash the spices and pumpkin together into a purée. Remove the spices and discard. The pumpkin purée can be used right away or made in advance and kept refrigerated for up to a week. This amount makes a double batch.
- Cook the oats according to packet instructions. Keep it slightly thicker than you want the end result to be. Stir in the milk, ¾ cup pumpkin purée, cinnamon powder, salt and honey. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more milk if necessary to get the right consistency.
- Serve hot with more pumpkin purée and dried fruit/nuts of your choice.