pepita granola with dried fruit
Oh I am so tricky with granola, I don’t even know where to begin. Granola is one of those foods that you know you should like because everyone likes it and because it sounds like something that you should like because it has oats and some fruit and overall it’s kind of good for you. And if you like the parts separately, shouldn’t you like the sum of them? Apparently, not if you are me.
For years, I’ve struggled with my secret granola loathing. Years. I felt pressured to like it because everyone around me did. But I found it either too greasy, or too sweet, or to clumpy or too tough. And sometimes, it would be awfully chewy and it would stick to my upper teeth, which would then cause a wrestling match between my tongue and the pieces that lodged themselves there – and inevitably the pieces would win, and I’d give up. I tried various brands of granola, from the mainstream, to the new and small-batch made, and found nothing that was truly exemplary.
But about a year ago, a friend gave me some granola for the holidays and I thought it was delicious. I intended to ask her for a recipe, but kind of never got around to it. I sort of mentally dog-eared it in my head and in my typical way, just forgot.
But recently, I’ve been trying to banish the cookie and embrace the healthy. And in my attempts in doing so, I’ve been eating a lot of plain yogurt. Now, I am one of those people who actually loves the taste of plain yogurt (don’t judge me) and won’t eat its flavored cousin, but even yogurt, in all its glory, unadorned by anything, gets a bit dull. And so, in trying to come up with creative yogurt toppings, the idea of granola popped into my head.
This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, which in turn got it from Gourmet, which in turn got it from Calle Ocho, a restaurant in New York. What can I say other than this granola recipe is a keeper? Other than a few tweaks I made based on my personal taste preferences, this is a great recipe to have – it’s not too sweet, not overly oily and if you keep your batch in the freezer, it’ll stay crispy indefinitely. At room temperature, it just gets soft, even in an airtight container.
And now I can join the legions of people who actually do like granola because I do as well. And because I am making it, I can add my favorite ingredients, like various dried berries, and make the sum of the parts precisely what I want it to be – plain yogurt, you’ve never tasted better!
Pepita Granola with Dried Fruit
Adapted from Deb, Gourmet and Calle Ocho
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sliced almonds (1 oz)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, sometimes called pepitas (1 1/2 oz; not roasted)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup mild honey
Pinch salt (flaky sea salt is wonderful in here)
1 cup tart dried cherries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried pears (1/4 inch dice)
1/2 cup diced dried apricots (1/4 inch dice)
1/3 cup golden raisins
- or -
2 3/4 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice (I used pears, apricots, strawberries, cherries and cranberries)
Sliced bananas or plain yogurt
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together all ingredients except the fruit in a large bowl until combined. Spread mixture evenly on a large (17-by 12-inch) shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, but checking every five minutes after the 15-minute mark because it burns quickly.** Transfer granola, in pan, to rack to cool stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Stir in dried fruit.
Granola keeps, frozen (the fruit’s moisture softens granola if not kept frozen) in an airtight container, a few months.
* I used unsweetened as I prefer my granola on the less sweet side.
** Mine was done in 20 minutes, so watch it carefully.