Today marks two momentous occasions. First of all, it’s the FIRST DAY OF FALL! Autumn is by far my favorite season, especially here in New England. Literally everything about this time of year puts a huge smile on my face: cool dry air, vibrantly-hued foliage, squawking migrating geese, back-to-school excitement, cozy sweaters, smoke curling out of chimneys, anticipation of Halloween and Thanksgiving, warm apple cider, apple picking excursions, slow-cooking chili, cinnamon-laden baked goods, and different varieties of autumn squash. Which brings me to the second reason this post is so special to me:
It’s here, folks. THE moment I’ve been waiting for since a national shortage left me bereft of a favorite ingredient: pumpkin puree is once again gracing the shelves of select grocery stores around the country! For Bostonians: I hunted down this Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin at the Brookline Stop & Shop – there were only a few cans left, so I hope they replenish their stock soon.
At my [desperate] request, my wonderful mom searched for and found (jackpot!) a bunch of canned Libby’s pumpkin puree at a large chain grocery store down where my parents live in PA. THANKS, MOM!!! As irony would have it, a few days later I found the elusive Libby’s pumpkin puree around here (for locals: I’ve now seen it at both the Fenway & Commonwealth/BU Shaw’s branches); but be forewarned… you’re going to have to pay a pretty penny: the 15 oz cans I saw were a whopping $2.69 each.
If store shelves around you are still stripped of pumpkin puree, have no fear. I am going to experiment with roasting sugar pumpkins for homemade puree and will post instructions and photos in a week or so.
I’m well aware that it is not normal for a person to be this ecstatic about a canned vegetable, (my husband has pointed this out on a few occasions), but pumpkin puree can do wonders for baked goods, desserts, and, of course, oatmeal.
Even if canned pumpkin had been readily available throughout the spring and summer months, there’s something to be said for waiting until crisp & cool fall weather to break out the bright orange-hued autumn squash.
Although I’m not a huge fan of unadorned pumpkin puree, I absolutely love it when flavored with a bit of pure maple syrup and seasoned with warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Mixed into thick Greek yogurt, baked into muffins and quick breads, and stirred into creamy oatmeal, pumpkin puree is a tasty, nutritious, and versatile ingredient to have on hand.
Stovetop oatmeal using old-fashioned rolled oats is one of my go-to hearty breakfasts during the colder months. That being
said written, every now and then it’s fun to make and eat oats in a different way. A batch of baked oatmeal takes longer to cook than the stovetop variety, but you’ll most likely have leftovers that are a snap to reheat on rushed weekday mornings (or pack in a container for lunch – the baked oatmeal is great at room temperature or even cold).
This baked oatmeal features a layer of sweet & pillowy caramelized bananas topped with pumpkin-infused rolled oats. Chewy raisins, aromatic spices, and molasses-y brown sugar round out the fall-inspired flavors. The top & sides of the baked oatmeal crisp up into a slightly crunchy crust while the interior & base layers remain soft and creamy. As with stovetop or overnight oatmeal, this baked version does a stellar job of satiating your hunger, but won’t make you feel lethargic like other heavy breakfast dishes.
Pumpkin & Caramelized Banana Baked Oatmeal
yields 4 servings
- canola oil cooking spray
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 large yellow-green bananas, sliced (you want to use slightly under-ripe bananas so they hold up to the sautéing and baking)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (I used raisins)
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts or seeds (I didn’t think of this addition until afterwards, but I suggest walnuts, pecans, or pumpkin seeds)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice* (recipe follows)
- 1 1/2 cups milk (low-fat, skim, or non-dairy)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling (due to a few batches of overnight & stovetop pumpkin oats, I was a bit short and thus supplemented the final 1/4 cup or so with unsweetened applesauce)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp pure maple extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square or round baking dish with cooking spray.
- Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the sliced bananas and cook for 2 minutes, gently stirring every now and then. Add cinnamon and maple syrup and let mixture boil & thicken for about 30 seconds. Spoon the bananas into the bottom of the prepared dish, and spread in an even layer. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, dried fruit, nuts or seeds, brown sugar, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, egg, and maple extract.
- Stir the oat mixture into the milk & pumpkin mixture. Pour over the bananas in the dish.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
*Ingredients for homemade pumpkin pie spice:
- 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground cloves
NOTE: for a different presentation, serve the oatmeal upside-down so the caramelized bananas are facing up: