Legend has it that in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, when my siblings were still young’uns, my parents were quite crunchy… There was a small vegetable garden in the yard, my mom baked her own bread and sprouted her own alfalfa. (To this day, she drinks nutritional yeast with grapefruit juice – it’s excellent for your health.) Yet, by the time I came around, they were a little more mainstream (or perhaps just tired from raising three kids?) and all the homegrown items had faded away. Don’t get me wrong: everything was still homeMADE, but the line of production didn’t always begin in the backyard.
Fast forward 26 years in my life, and now it’s hip to be resourceful and self-sufficient again. Look around Minneapolis backyards: gardens are everywhere. About a year ago, my mom found out that I make my own yogurt and my own Salty Olive Oil Granola and she sort of chuckled in a knowing kind of way. I suppose I forget the context from time to time and think I’m somehow special, when in fact it used to be the status quo.
In any case, I really like to make my own granola. It’s so much tastier than the commercially-produced kind you find at most supermarkets, and so much cheaper than the delicious gourmet/organic/foodie kinds you find at the co-ops. I particularly like granola when it’s just the right mix of salty and sweet… Imagine how excited I was to find this recipe from the NY Times that uses olive oil instead of the traditional vegetable/canola (or other mild, flavorless oil).
I have adapted the recipe in terms of what add-ins I use. I also prefer not to add spices to my granola so that it can be more versatile. Don’t mess with the proportion of oil, syrup and sugar. The measurements help ensure the crunchiness of the final product. If you want less sweetness, do I what I do: eat it on plain yogurt!
- 3 cups old-fashioned (i.e. not instant) rolled oats
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup (white) sesame seeds
- ¼ cup ground flax meal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup roasted, salted, shelled pistachios
- ¾ cup chopped dried apricots
- Yogurt, ricotta or mascarpone cheese
- Fresh fruit
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix oats, coconut, sesame seeds, flax meal, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a liquid measure (like a Pyrex 2-cup liquid measure) combine the oil and syrup and stir until slightly mixed. Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients, and use your hands to ensure that the liquids are evenly distributed throughout.
Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with oil (like Pam). Spread the granola out in one layer. You will bake this for about 30-40 minutes total. Every 10 minutes, remove the sheet and turn over/mix the granola to ensure even baking. Keep a watchful eye on this! There is nothing more disappointing than burnt granola! You want a nice golden brown color and nothing darker.
When the granola has cooled down a bit, transfer it to a large bowl and add the pistachios and apricots. Store in an airtight container. Serve with yogurt, ricotta, or for a more decadent breakfast, mascarpone cheese!