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Overnight oats with pumpkin and pecans put a fall spin on make-ahead staple

Pumpkin pecan overnight oats can be served and stored in jars.  (Tom McCorkle/Special to the Washington Post)
Pumpkin pecan overnight oats can be served and stored in jars. (Tom McCorkle/Special to the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special to the Washington Post

A feeling of contentment still washes over me when I think back on how my daughter would make a beeline to the refrigerator when she got home from school to grab herself a jar of overnight oats before digging in to her homework. Watching her enjoy the food I prepared, and knowing the nourishment it provided for her, was, and continues to be, deeply gratifying.

The individual, pudding-like jars were so convenient to have around as a make-ahead snack or breakfast, I’d make a batch practically weekly, changing up the variations with the seasons. I don’t make overnight oats quite as often these days, with my daughter now away at college, but they are still in regular rotation in my home.

In the spring and summer, I add peaches, cherries or fresh berries to the base of milk, yogurt, oats and seasonings, and in the winter, I stir in grated apple, chunks of pear and dried cranberries. Throughout the fall, I can’t resist the allure of pureed pumpkin mixed with a warm, fragrant blend of pumpkin spice, ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Studded with buttery, toasted pecans and lightly sweetened with maple syrup, these autumn-hued, parfait-like jars of goodness are a flavorful, handy and nutritious way to fuel your morning or afternoon no matter your age.

Pumpkin Pecan Overnight Oats in Jars

1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup reduced-fat or whole milk

1 cup plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt, plus more for garnish

¾ cup pumpkin puree

3 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

⅛ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

In a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pecans, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside half of the pecans and transfer the remaining to an airtight container and refrigerate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and ginger until combined. Stir in the reserved pecans and the oats.

Taste, and add 1 more tablespoon of maple syrup, if desired. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes, then stir well and divide the mixture evenly among four 12-ounce (1½ cup) jars. Cover the jars tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight.

Right before serving, top each jar with a quarter of the refrigerated pecans, a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Make ahead: The oats need to be prepared at least 8 hours in advance of serving.

Storage notes: The prepared oats can be refrigerated for as long as 4 days.

Yield: 4 servings (1 jar is about 1¼ cups)

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