I have been a fan of homemade granola for as long as I can remember. I literally grew up with it, as my mother made it way before it was a trend to do so.
When I was in college, I would pack big tins of her granola to take back to school with me. I would snack on it when I studied, and top my college cafeteria salads with it.
Today, I love having a hearty homemade granola on hand to add to my morning yogurt or take with me as an easy breakfast snack when I travel.
As I began cooking for myself, I adapted my mother’s recipe with my favorite fruit and nuts. My granola changed as my tastes changed.
And, that is the great thing about granola. It is totally customizable. You can add or subtract anything you don’t like as long as you have an oat base. Recently, I was in Los Angeles visiting two of my favorite food friends and it just so happened that we all brought granola as gifts. I brought my recipe that I am sharing here.
Bob gave me some of his new granola, with a base of half rolled oats and half rye flakes, which provide a delicious savoriness. Anthony gave me a jar of his version of Eleven Madison Park restaurant’s sweet and salty granola that is so addicting, you can eat it by the handfuls.
There are similarities between all three granolas — we all use maple syrup and dried cherries — but there are differences too, and that is the sheer beauty and deliciousness of it.
I like my granola crisp but not crunchy and I have found that if you add a little granulated white sugar to the oats as they toast, it helps to crisp the mixture.
Generally, all the sweeteners are melted with oil because that is the easiest way to coat the oats and nuts. The added granulated sugar is not melted and therefore adds a rougher crisp texture as it cooks into the mixture.
I use olive oil where others use coconut or canola oil because I like the flavor and viscosity of olive oil, and it is healthy to boot.
When it comes to fruit, I always add crystallized ginger, plus dried cherries and apricots, and sometimes dried cranberries and raisins
The bottom line is that granola is all about your favorite flavors. If you like almonds and dried figs, or hazelnuts, or even bits of dark chocolate, use them instead or alongside my mix-ins.
Serve with yogurt, milk, honey and fruit, or eat straight up!
DRIED FRUIT AND NUT GRANOLA
By Elizabeth Karmel
- 8 cups (18-ounces) toasted rolled oats
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shelled pistachios
- 1-2 cups chopped pecans or other nut
- 2 cups (8 ounces) raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup packed sweetened dried coconut
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar or maple sugar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (8 ounces) dried cherries
- 2 cups dried cranberries or white raisins
- 2 cups dried apricots cut into slivers, or other dried fruit as desired
- 2 cups candied ginger, cut into slivers
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with baking parchment.
In a very large bowl, combine oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir well to blend.
In a small saucepan, warm the maple syrup, brown sugar and olive oil over low heat, stirring gently, until sugar is melted. Stir in vanilla.
Pour over dry ingredients. Stir over-and-over to coat ingredients equally. Spread mixture evenly in prepared baking sheet.
Bake about 40 minutes, until golden, stirring every 15 minutes so all the ingredients toast evenly. Remove from oven and stir again — to keep it from cooling into a solid sheet — and cool completely.
When cool to touch, transfer granola back to the large bowl. Add dried fruit and ginger; stir to mix. Store in an airtight container. Makes 40 1/2-cup servings.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 308 calories, 12 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 34 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 26 g sugar, 7 g protein.