Maybe the Europeans might claim title to the inventors of granola. They have something called Muesli in Switzerland. However, in my mind granola is a truly American classic. Invented in California in the 60’s by hippies and Seventh Day Adventists, it has grown non-stop ever since. Rolling Stone has the full history on-line at: a-social-history-of-granola
The exciting thing about granola is that it is soooo easy to make at home. Once you try it, you will probably never get the store bought stuff again.
This recipe was inspired by a piece by Melissa Clark, a wonderful food columnist for the New York Times (check her out at http://cooking.nytimes.com/42927554-melissa-clark/my-recipes). She uses olive oil in one of her recipes, which is unusual but works really nicely.
The great thing about granola is that there are hundreds of variations so making it at home allows you to include all of your favorite things.
Everything starts with old-fashioned Quaker Rolled Oats. You then add some nuts, seeds, oil, something sweet like honey, sugar or maple syrup, and spices. Mix it all up, bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes, add some dried fruit, if you like, and you are done.
Here’s my favorite recipe:
- 3 cups of rolled oats
- 1-1/2 cups of raw pecans – coarsely chopped
- 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds (see our post on pepitas for another way to prepare this great superfood XXX)
- 1 cup currants (an oft forgotten but wonderful fruit)
- ¾ cup of maple syrup
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix all of the ingredients except the currants in a large bowl.
- Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, while you are stirring, add the currants.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for 30 minutes – this will help produce some nice clumps.
- Store in zip-lock bags – I like to split everything into 3 qt. size bags. That way you can keep some and gift some.
You can make tons of substitutions to suit your taste. Instead of pecans, use walnuts, almonds, regular peanuts or pistachios. Instead of currants, try raisins or dried cranberries. Instead of maple syrup, use honey or brown sugar. Add any spices that suit your fancy – cardamom, turmeric, cumin, ginger `etc.
Many people like to serve fresh fruit with the granola and most of us add some milk or yogurt. You can also experiment; add it to salads for a little crunch or use it instead of breadcrumbs in any recipe. Here’s one that might surprise you:
Take two chicken breasts and cut into thin strips across the grain. Dredge in flour, then in egg and then in granola. Put on a greased baking sheet and roast in the oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes. Serve with a little mayo for dipping. Sounds strange, but tastes great.
Experiment and enjoy this great American classic.