May 22, 2011

Crunchy Granola

Ah, spring. Thank you for your belated arrival. Last week was the first week where the temperature stayed in the double digits and it was definitely most welcomed. However, it seems that I have developed an allergic reaction to pollen. My eyes were itchy and watery and I kept sneezing at random, but even this bizarre development (and the rainy weather this week) has not dampened my enthusiasm for warmer weather.

Do you know who else was enjoying the warm Toronto weather last week? Mark Bittman. I am a huge Mark Bittman fan and I let out a surprising but gleeful, "What?!" when I found out through twitter that he was in town to check out some of the wonderful food programming we have in the city. (Yes, I reluctantly joined the twitter world, mostly because I needed a way to get around New York Times' monthly article limit by following their twitter feed. I don't think I'll be sharing my account with you anytime soon as I have yet to do my first tweet.) For years, a weekly highlight was to see what recipe he was going to post for his now-defunct Minimalist column. The most mind-blowing revelation to date is savoury oatmeal. Who knew that adding soy sauce and scallions to oatmeal would taste like congee? These days, I look forward to his entries on food sustainability.

When I saw his How to Cook Everything at my favourite used bookstore (the one where I can never leave without buying something), I snatched it up without a second thought. It is the first thing I reach for whenever I have a cooking related question. Skills his cookbook has taught me: how to skin the overabundance of tomatoes growing in my backyard last summer to make oven-dried tomatoes, how to shape a baguette, how to roast a juicy chicken and how to make granola.

I've made his ridiculously easy granola recipe so many times that I have it memorized. The great thing about the recipe is that it is completely adaptable to your personal preference. I like more nuts and coconut in my granola and less dried fruit (and never, ever with raisins), so that's how I make my granola. Feel free to change the ratios to your liking.

Crunchy Granola
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

If you like a clumpier granola, add a couple of spoonfuls of apple sauce and/or nut butter to help the mixture stick together. To add an extra crunch, add some brown sugar. Play around with the spices; the possibilities are endless.

5 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
3 cups mixed nuts and seeds: a combination of sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
1 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and nutmeg, or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt
1/2 to 1 cup honey or maple syrup, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit

Heat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla extract and sweetener. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.

Remove the pan from the oven and add the dried fruit. Cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.


  1. I will definitely give it a try!  Been trying to make my own granola for sometime now.  I made some granola bars the other day - pretty easy and adaptable.  Will post it sometime.  We are sick of the cereals from the store - either they are too sweet or they have nothing to them.  We did find one cereal that we liked in England -

  2. This granola is more "dry" than store-bought granola (I've seen other recipes that call for butter or oil), but I really like it because there's only a hint of sweetness to it.  I got into the habit of eating yoghurt and granola for breakfast when I was in Japan because I couldn't stand their bread (it tastes like air) and there was a specific grocery store that sold granola that wasn't overpriced. 

  3. Made this's good... I like the hint of sweetness to it too.  Can't wait to have it with yogurt tomorrow!

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it!  The granola keeps well in the fridge.