my favorite olive oil granola

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.

granola in the pan

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.

granola and dried apricots

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.

granola and milk

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.

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.



Olive Oil Granola, made with soaked oats

Ingredients:
(base)
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

(additions)
2.5 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried apricots

Directions:
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.)

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Caitlin

    I go through kicks with granola – some months, I’m making huge batches every week or so, but then there’s the last couple months – I don’t think I’ve made it in quite a while. This olive oil variation definitely has me intrigued!

  2. kate

    I have been on a granola craze for quite some time now, and think that everyone should be. Every batch I’ve made is unsurpassed in flavor and freshness, and when stirred into yogurt, makes such a perfect snack. I completely understand and share your passion for it.

  3. Jacqui

    this post is so beautifully written, shanna. tying food and life together comes so naturally to you, like that’s just the way you think about everything and see the world, and that’s really, really awesome.

    i’ve never been a huge granola fan. i’m not a hater, by any means — in fact, i’m eating a granola bar right now! but it’s the quaker oats kind, with chocolate chips, and it’s really just not the same, is it? i’ll have to give the homemade version a shot.

    p.s. love that bowl!!!

  4. Shannalee

    Caitlin, I am like that with most things, I think, so I def understand. next time you’ve got an urge for granola though, try this!

    Kate, Exactly! Everything you said!

    Ashley, I know! I’ve been seeing olive oil everywhere lately!

    Jacqui, You are probably the most encouraging blog friend I’ve made, did you know that? Thank you for the nice things you said. And yes, for the record, homemade is just SO not the same as the packaged kind! This stuff is addictive. Really, really addictive.

    Tim, Ha! Well thank you for the compliment!

    Kickpleat, I am a sucker for vintage bowls (and granola, but that’s obvious). Hope you like this version!

    Antonietta, Oh you must make it yourself. Really. You’ll never look back!

    Redmenace, Excellent! I love when that happens!

  5. Allison

    I think I have the same history with granola. Store bought granola bars in lunches, snacks between classes in college and snacks on the metro home from work. I can’t wait to try the granola you made; it looks so tasty as if I can take some from my computer screen. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kim

    Wouldn’t you know it? I bought the ingredients to make your granola (the one adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes, because I thought it was appropriate for my blog) today. Was too wiped out to make it tonight, but at least now all the ingredients are in my house!

    And I love your bowl too! I have a few vintage Pyrex bowls that are in that same family :-)

  7. clare

    I used to live in a Camphill community, and granola was a very important part of our daily lives. We always made it from scratch, or goaded our neighbors into making some for us. I love it filled with nuts and seeds, with just a modest dollop of yogurt. It was enough to get me out of bed on time every morning!

  8. Shannalee

    Allison, Happy to know another granola lover! Hope you enjoy this version!

    Kim, Ha! I hadn’t even thought of how kitchen sink would be perfect for you. :) Yay – can’t wait to hear how you like it!

    Rachel, Wish I were there to come help!

    Maria, Yeah, the apricots add a great sweetness and texture. I’ll have to go check out your version!

    Clare, Mmm that all sounds wonderful!

    Hannah, Right? I thought so too, and the results were so good!

    Jessie, Excellent! Let me know what you think!

  9. Kasey

    I totally can never get enough of granola. I make a riff on the same version nearly every week. I could always a new excuse to try something new, but yet still as comforting. Nothing can separate me from my granola :)

  10. kameran

    just in the nick of time! I’m getting low on my granola stash as well and this recipe with *cardamon* as well looks amazing!

    yogurt and granola and I have serious thing going on.
    I recommend making your own yogurt to complement it :)

  11. Carrie Minns

    Shannalee, This looks delicious. We must have been thinking on similar wavelengths since I finally finished my post about Aussie (granola) bites and then, I come over here to your post and you have a granola theme going as well. Besides the scrumptious recipe, your writing is so wonderful.

  12. Janet

    My sister told me this morning several things about granola: she’s obsessed, eats it all the time and now her stockpile is low. Hehe. So I suggested your olive oil recipe and she was surprised you could the oil would work. So now she’s headed to Fairway, that fancy grocery store but it carries lots of dried fruit and nuts bulk to stock up to make your recipe. Win! =)

    I feel the same about how some things just grow on you the more, especially people and family. Any excuse for a trip I like to visit my sister, crash at her place and annoy her, but mostly just to bridge the gaps and build stronger a strong relationship. During my last two week vacation I had the opportunity to see a couple of friends twice, each time learning new things, seeing their situation in a different light or growing closer to them. Those things warm my heart and bring me much joy.

    Your color combos work perfectly in the photo – orange bowl with the granola and apricots (orange!).

    I could use a new snack at work instead of plain almonds and with the cardamon, I smell a refreshing and fragrant breakfast.

  13. Shannalee

    Kasey, Trust me. I SO understand!

    Kameran, You know, I think it really was the cardamom that put this over the top for me. Mmmm.

    Carrie, I know! I just saw your Aussie bites and thought they looked delicious! Thanks for your very kind words, too!

    Janet, Thank you so much for all your encouragement, and not just in this particular comment. I appreciate it very much. Love what you said about growing closer to people and pursuing that relationship – yes. And love that you sent this recipe to your sister. Hope you guys love it!

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  19. Christa

    Hey Shanna – just happened upon this post via a few other posts that link back to this and I am curious, what is the benefit of 1) soaking the oats and 2) cooking it for such a long time at a low temperature? I’m sure I could find this info someplace, but if you have a quick reply I’d love to hear it. Thanks! :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      HI Christa! Here’s a quick, maybe overly simple answer for ya: Soaking the oats is a process that makes the oats easier to digest. Then baking it at a low temperature for a longer period of time essentially dehydrates the oats rather than baking them, preserving more of their nutritional benefits. We don’t always do it but when you can, it’s helpful! : )

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