Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Homemade Granola

Granola is a great kind of a "fast food."
Grains, nuts, fruit... plus some milk or yogurt if you choose. It has everything you need!

I know people who make a batch very similar to this every week.

I see new recipes and think about trying them, but I can't seem to get past what I already know and what I know I like.
Call me closed-minded when it comes to granola.
Occasionally the same problem presents itself at restaurants...

Yes, I do buy it sometimes because it looks good, but it's not the same as the fresh homemade kind. Plus, you know exactly what's in it when you make it yourself.

You can tailor it a bit to your own tastes or whatever you have on hand, but I think the ratios in this recipe work very well. It includes four cups of rolled oats, two cups of coconut, three cups of nuts, and four and a half cups of dried fruit.

The color change in the cooked granola makes it look so much more appetizing, right? Be careful not to overcook the oat mixture. We've overcooked it a couple times in the past, and burnt granola is not so tasty (I think the time for the original recipe is at least 10 minutes too long).
It's very important to keep checking and stirring once it starts to brown- especially near the end.

As previously discussed (in a one-sided manner, I know), people are coconut people or they're not. I don't really think you'd know there was coconut in this recipe once it's done. The coconut is crispy-toasty, not the stick between your teeth texture you might think of when you think 'COCONUT.'
Then again, I like coconut.

The original recipe calls for almonds, cashews, apricots, figs, cherries and cranberries.
However, I subtracted some of the almonds and apricots and filled in with pecans and dates.

Pictured in the photo with the dried fruit are (clockwise from top) cherries, figs, cranberries, apricots, and dates.

I know they're not bright orange, but yes, they are indeed apricots. They're unsulfured (sulfur prevents oxidation- or browning- in dehydrated fruits and increases shelf life). Our preferred variety- unsulfured- is chewier and tangier in flavor than the more commonly available sweet and soft sulfured type.

Granted, the unsulfured apricots don't really compare in color to the more neon-bright version of apricots we're used to seeing, but when the granola is all mixed up, the finished product is beautiful...

...and it tastes good.

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Makes about 12 cups

4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
2 c sweetened, shredded coconut
1 c sliced almonds
1 c broken pecans
3/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c honey
1 c diced dried apricots
1 c diced dried figs
1 c dried cherries
1 c dried cranberries
1/2 c diced dried dates
1 c roasted, unsalted cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss oats, coconut, almonds, and pecans. In a small bowl whisk together honey and vegetable oil. Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and fold to coat evenly.
Pour the ingredients onto a 13x18 inch baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is an even golden brown, about 20-35 minutes.
Remove the granola from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is completely cool. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, dates, and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

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