So, last time I posted, I mentioned granola. I love granola for breakfast these days; I make a low-sugar version, so it’s reasonably healthy, and I can pour myself a small bowl of it and snack on it all morning. It’s just as good at 11:00 when I realize I forgot to finish eating it as it was at 8:00 when I scooped it out of its container. Can’t say that about yogurt! (Sad but true; ask me how I know.)
This recipe is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, one of the only cookbooks we own that we actually cook out of frequently. There’s just something about it that really speaks to both of us. I’ve made some minor changes to her recipe here, but the true genius of this recipe is the replacement of sugar with maple syrup, leading to a less sickly sweet batch that’s just perfect for breakfast. I actually don’t have much of a sweet tooth, especially not first thing in the morning.
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup (Note: if you’re just shy of the 1/2 cup of maple syrup, you can add about 1/8 cup of honey instead to bring it up to level. I wouldn’t go so far as to add 1/4 cup honey; the mixture should still be mostly maple syrup. This is just something you can do if you’re running low. No need to measure the honey you’re adding precisely, just pour what syrup you’ve got into your measuring cup, add honey to bring the total amount up to 1/2 cup, and stir to incorporate.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg white
Dried fruit to taste, if desired. Perelman uses 1.5 cups of dried cherries; when I make this for my husband, I add the cherries, but for myself am happier with just the grains.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and get a baking sheet ready. For some of you this will involve just setting the thing on the counter. For me it usually involves lining it with parchment paper so I don’t feel like I ought to wash the baking sheet when I’m done.
Combine all the ingredients but the egg white and the fruit (if you’re using it) in a nice, big bowl. Stir them all together to get an even distribution of ingredients.
In a small bowl (or, hell, your pyrex measuring cup, which is what I always do) whisk the egg white until frothy. The egg white is the protein that binds your clumps of granola together and gives you big clumps in your finished product. While we’re on the subject, if any of you have tried vegan substitutes for the egg as a granola binder, I’m all ears – this is so close to being a vegan-friendly recipe that I would love to take it all the way with a protein substitute for the egg.
Pour the frothy egg white into the granola mixture and stir to distribute it throughout. Be careful to get an even distribution.
Pour the mixture out onto your baking sheet and spread it out into an even layer. Pop it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet in the oven 180 degrees and continue to bake it for another 20-25 minutes. This step depends, of course, on how hot your oven runs. Mine is always a little cold so I tend to need the full baking time. If you’re not sure how long it will need, you can check on it at the 20 minute mark – when done it should be browned evenly throughout and should feel dry.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool – you can put it on a cooling rack, but you can also forget about it entirely and leave it on top of the oven overnight while you conduct a massive Netflix marathon with your spouse, which is more my style. Once it’s cool, transfer it into a storage container and mix in the fruit, if you’re using it.
I’ve noshed on the same batch out of an airtight bag for a month, but do note that it’s only intended to last two weeks, so it does get a bit stale. If you’d like, you can freeze it for longer-term storage.
Adapted from a recipe by Deb Perelman, in her Smitten Kitchen cookbook.