Thursday, January 16, 2014

olive oil granola with dried apricots and pistachios

Thursday, January 16, 2014

You guys, I made granola.  I have been raving about its success over and over the past few days to my sister and my husband, neither of whom are displaying adequate enthusiasm.  I suppose it's not a particularly complicated endeavor, but somehow I have a notion that making something from scratch that is so widely available, in a multitude of different forms and flavors, is worthy of praise and accolades.  It would have been easy to purchase my own granola, is what I'm saying.  Instead, I made something far more satisfying and delicious, to say nothing of the fact that the massive quantity produced from the recipe means it was particularly cost-effective.

I devoured the entire huge portion of granola in one week, a feat that I probably shouldn't brag about because, truth be told, granola is one of those things that likes to pretend it's a "healthy snack" when really it's a bunch of wholesome nuts delicately crusted in sweets and spices.  I do not mean to denounce it entirely-it's certainly a better choice than a handful of cookies, for example, but I probably should not have taken it upon myself to eat it all.  I felt certain that little A would be a big fan, and I was looking forward to spicing up our boring breakfast routines with bowls of granola and yogurt, but he is very distrustful of new things these days, and mostly pushed around what he called "nuts" entirely, eating only his yogurt. I plan to keep making granola until I've converted him.

Though I used a recipe from my Melissa Clark cookbook, which I adore and should cook from and write about more, I became intrigued about making granola after reading about Megan Gordon on Orangette.  Megan "became famous" essentially because of her granola, Marge Granola, which she now sells from her bakery in Seattle.  Her cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings, was just released, and I am so excited about it-an entire cookbook devoted specifically to breakfasts that focus on whole grains and don't skimp on things like cream and butter!  She is a girl after my own heart! One of her recipes is incredibly similar to this one, with just a few insignificant differences, but I think I prefer Melissa's recipe.  I plan on trying Megan's version of hazelnut granola with cacao nibs next!

Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios, adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats*
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips**
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (you can use 2/3 cup, but the granola will be drier-I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or ground ginger (I used ginger)
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom or ginger.  Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet (about 11x17 inches) in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
3.  Transfer the granola to a large bowl and add the apricots, tossing to combine.  Megan's granola recipe suggested adding the fruit after the granola has cooled completely, which made mixing the fruit in thoroughly a much easier task.

*Megan's book gives a lot of great advice about cooking and baking with oats, and it's important to note that for a tasty granola, you need to use rolled oats, definitely not instant.
**I have it on good authority that coconut "chips" are actually large coconut flakes.  I use them frequently for the kale and coconut farro bowl that I continue to be obsessed with, and I pick them up at Whole Foods.  They are well worth the effort to find, big shards of unsweetened coconut that add a great texture to a variety of dishes.  I might even have to start buying in bulk, which is apparently an option on Amazon.

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