Making granola has become a monthly happening in this house. It’s gone from something I made just for myself, to something that everyone gobbles up. It’s the perfect snack to have sitting around. If you’ve never made granola before, I implore you to try it. It’s so easy and SO MUCH better than the stuff you buy in the store. My recipe is based on one Mark Bittman did for the New York Times awhile back. It’s a great basic recipe, and over time yours, like mine, will become uniquely your own.
After making granola over and over, I’ve learned that the most important element, besides using good ingredients, is the contrast between the textures and flavors. Bad granola is often one-dimensional—overly sweetened oats paired with sweet raisins, and not enough nuts or seeds to really notice. To make it really delicious, you must contrast the ingredients. So I always pair a sweet dried fruit and a tart one, use several different nuts and seeds, add coconut for richness, and also add a small amount of crystallized ginger for some oomph. Another important element is sweetener. I pretty much always use pure grade B maple syrup. I think it works the best. But I’ve also used agave nectar (good, but doesn’t have the character that maple syrup does) and honey (also good, but makes the granola a little stickier.) The amount of sweetener is up to your personal taste, so feel free to add more or less.
5 cups plain rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
2 to 2 1/2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I like chopped pecans, sliced almonds, and shelled pumpkin seeds)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I usually use the big ones, but this time only had the shredded kind on hand)
about 3/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, chopped if large (pair a tart variety like unsweetened tart cherries or unsweetened pineapple with something sweet like dates or sweetened blueberries or cranberries)
2-4 tablespoons very finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In a large bowl combine oats, nuts and seeds, coconut, maple syrup, and salt; mix well. Spread evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Mix in chopped fruit. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
I promise you’ll never go back to the storebought stuff again–and wouldn’t it make a nice gift for the holidays? I bet my son’s teachers would love getting a nice big package of granola!
Oh and here’s a great tip: Use a pair of kitchen scissors to make cutting dried fruit easier. Using a knife is impossible!