There are some things in life that grow on you—places that get better every time you visit, favorite movies that catch you with something new each time you watch, people that seem funnier and smarter and kinder every single time you talk.
With these things, it’s rare you didn’t like them at least a little to begin with; you probably did. It’s just that, for whatever reason, when you liked them enough and kept experiencing them again and again, your affection kept increasing—and in continued exposure, you found the marvelous reality that discovery, even or maybe especially in something familiar, leads to greater love.
That’s how I feel about granola.
Our back story—mine and granola’s—is pretty ordinary: I had granola bars in the school lunches I made myself in high school. I threw them in my messenger bag in college. I even bought bulk packs at Costco or Sam’s when I worked my first adult job, so I could grab a couple to stick in my purse or to make a quick breakfast on my way out the door. You could say I always liked granola, and we spent many years on good terms.
But. Then sometime after I started this food blog, I decided to make granola (here and then here and then in bars last November, and there was also a batch last December 24 that I never told you about, which smelled sweet with cinnamon and cloves and Christmastime). I know it’s nothing difficult, baking granola. It’s as simple as stirring, spreading and putting in the oven. But over the last year or so, I’ve discovered how much better granola can taste when it’s homemade, fresh out of the oven, fragrant and golden with clumps. I’ve discovered that I like it in a bowl, with milk; spread over yogurt, with or without fruit; eaten straight from the pan, in big fistfuls I bring to my mouth.
The truth is, I am completely, absolutely crazy for granola. I love it. It has total power over me, and I want it every day. And, in the same way that it’s sometimes hard to articulate what you like about someone when you care about them very deeply, it’s been hard for me to put into words what was so darn perfect about this latest granola batch.
It’s an olive oil version, I can tell you that, inspired by The New York Times. Loads of other bloggers have already sung the praises of it. It’s sweet and it’s salty, flecked with spicy hints of cardamom throughout. Eating it started to feel like candy, not because it’s so sweet but because it’s so, well, delicious, glazed throughout with olive oil and maple syrup and light brown sugar, studded with chopped dried apricots. And it was gone all too soon, just of course like the things we love most always are.
Update, 8/12/10! After making the oatmeal cookie granola with soaked oats, I decided to adapt this olive oil version, too. If you’d prefer that new, updated take on the recipe, just scroll all the way to the bottom or click here.
Olive Oil Granola
Adapted from The New York Times
One more awesome thing about granola (and then I’ll stop, swear): it’s sooo versatile. Use different nuts (the original recipe listed pistachios), use different dried fruit, substitute honey for maple syrup. I can tell you right now: the result will still be amazing. It always is.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds
1 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer (use parchment or a Silpat to make it easier to transfer the mix to bowl later) and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or you could use butter)
1/2 cup buttermilk
enough water to create moist consistency throughout
(liquids) NOTE: this was too much liquid, and I know that because I ended up baking the granola for around 6 to 8 hours instead of 4. Next time I’d probably half everything.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sucanat
1/4 cup sorghum syrup (or maple syrup or honey)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2.5 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried apricots
Mix oats with coconut oil, buttermilk and just enough water to create a moist consistency throughout. Cover with a cloth or a plate, and let sit on the counter for a full 24 hours.
The next day, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Mix olive oil, sorghum, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, cardamom, Sucanat and salt in a glass measuring cup in a pot of water on the stove. Bring water to gentle simmer while stirring liquid mixture until it’s thin. Add liquids to oats, mixing well.
Spread mixture over two rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment and bake for about four hours. (The thinner you spread the mixture, the less time it will take to cook.) Allow to cool in oven before removing to container. Add all the additions and store the granola in an airtight container. (Or you can add the additions, excepting the granola, about an hour before the granola’s done baking, and add just the apricots at the end.)