With breakfast more so than with any other meal, I tend to go through phases. Ill have toast for weeks, or quinoa, or eggs- a few months ago it was fruit smoothies every day. Truthfully, there are only so many things you can eat for breakfast (though Mark Bittman disagrees*), so these phases tend to repeat themselves.
(*I shouldn’t be so dismissive of poor Marks savoury-breakfast crusade. After all, my all-time favourite breakfast is cold, leftover pizza.)
One phase that I always look forward to repeating is my granola obsession. While it normally occurs in the cooler months, I’m not immune to it in Summer, either. It struck over the weekend with a vengeance, so I set to work preparing for a granola-centric few weeks.
To be honest, I was never all that fussed about granola before I started making my own, from (who else?) Mark Bittmans recipe. Hailing from my cooking bible How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark’s recipe is a bit different from most. Firstly, it uses no oil. I understand that to some granola purists this may seem like sacrilege, but when I first made this, my limited experience didn’t raise any red flags- I simply thought this was the way things were done.
Most granola recipes have you mix everything except the fruit together in a bowl, then roast it in the oven- super easy. Here you add the ingredients one at a time, as the mixture is cooked slowly on the stovetop. Then the whole thing goes into the oven, and as usual, any fruit gets added at the end. (Trust me, you don’t want to forget, put it in with the nuts and end up with rock-hard apricot bits. Not fun.) Sure, this way takes a little longer, but I think it’s worth it, if only for the wonderful toasted-oats smell that will fill your kitchen within minutes.
Over the years I’ve tweaked with the recipe a bit, adding a touch of olive oil to help with “clumping”, and changing the flavourings to suit me. But the best thing about this is that it isn’t so much a recipe as a suggestion, and you can do what you like with it. Change the honey for maple syrup (my favourite when I remember to bring some from home), use any combination of seeds, nuts, and fruit that you can think of, add different spices. I’ve made a candied ginger number, a peanut butter version, even one with dried cherries and chocolate chips.
Kept in an airtight container, granola lasts for months, which is useful to those of us who do breakfast in phases. I seriously doubt you’ll move on while you have any of this left, though. At six cups of granola total and, let’s say 1/3 cup a day, I predict this phase will last… 3 weeks?
adapted from Crunchy Granola from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
makes 6 cups
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup seeds (I used sunflower)
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
- 1/2 shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 mixed spice (or use cinnamon)
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (I used apricots, but consider raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°C. Mix together the honey, olive oil, vanilla, mixed spice and sea salt and set aside.
- In a large cast-iron roasting pan (I use a Dutch oven and it works fine), heat the oats over medium for 3-5 minutes. They will begin to colour slightly and should smell fragrant.
- Add the seeds and nuts, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the coconut, and continue cooking for another two minutes. Remove from the heat and add the honey/oil mixture. Stir until everything is well-coated.
- Transfer to the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Granola should be golden brown throughout but not burnt anywhere.
- Remove from the oven and stir in the fruit. Leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.