why olive oil? actually, you're food-savvy; you probably heard of it before I did. granola made with extra-virgin olive oil is rich, delicious and deep -- a perfect combination of sweet & a bit salty; totally addictive. there are quite a few recipes going around the interwebz; Melissa Clark's recipe for Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios from the New York Times is excellent, and possibly what started the trend back in 2009. so then, you may ask, why cranberries, Diane, why??? simple: I had leftover fresh cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, and I wanted to use it somewhere I could taste it, because I love cranberries. they're very good in this granola; so good that I made a new batch of cranberry sauce just to refine/test this recipe. of course, if you don't have leftover cranberry sauce hanging around, or if you'd prefer a different berry, you can substitute raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc. -- just use a bit less sugar to compensate for sweeter fruits. you can also leave out the fresh fruit entirely, and just add plenty of dried fruit at the end. you can easily leave out the coconut and/or nuts and it still works; this is one of many delicious variations. by the way, if you've read this far, leave me a comment to let me know. if you can make it through my verbiage, I'll at least name a recipe after you. anyway...
however you make it, I highly recommend you try making olive oil granola. then be prepared to lock it up tight, because it will disappear at an alarming rate. it's that good. this recipe will yield about 6 cups of granola.
- 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant, not steel-cut -- only old-fashioned rolled oats will work for this recipe)
- optional: 1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut (I don't like the combination of coconut and cranberries, so I left it out, but I'd definitely use it with just about any other fruit)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey (you can substitute 1 cup maple syrup for the brown and/or white sugars and water, or substitute 1-1/4 cups maple syrup for the sugars, water and the honey)
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2-1 cup leftover (or freshly made) cranberry sauce, however much you have
- 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used reduced-sugar dried cranberries; just about any kind of dried fruit will work here, as long as it's somewhat soft -- no leathery un-sulphured apricots or the like, but just about anything else will work)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 4 ounces toasted nuts, such as chopped pecans, sliced almonds, roasted shelled pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds -- whatever combination you prefer
place the oats (and optional coconut) in a large bowl. combine the brown sugar, white sugar and water in a medium/deep saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. after your sweetener has cooled a bit, whisk in the honey , olive oil, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cranberry sauce, and combine thoroughly. pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees F. pour the sweetener/olive oil mixture over the oats in the bowl and mix in completely. oil a couple of baking sheets and spread the granola out into even layers and bake for 60 minutes or so, until golden brown and crunchy, stirring gently/rotating trays every 15 minutes. remove to racks and allow to cool a bit. n.b. don't let the granola cool in the pans unless you *really* enjoy soaking & scrubbing -- otherwise, tip it out while it's still a bit warm. while still a bit warm, scrape the granola off the baking sheets into a large clean bowl, allow to cool completely, and mix in the dried fruits (and optional toasted nuts). taste for seasoning, and add a pinch more salt or cinnamon if you'd like. whatever you do, don't break up the big clusters of granola that form -- you know those are the first pieces you're going to eat! I don't know why, but they're the most desirable pieces of granola, so let them happen. seriously: every time you break up a cluster of homemade granola, somewhere a tiny kitten cries. so just don't do it. store this granola in large jars in the freezer (it will get stale in the fridge), except for the jar from which you're currently munching -- that can be kept safely at room temperature for at least a few days. if it lasts that long.
eat over greek yogurt and fresh fruit, with milk, or any way you like granola. I must confess: I ate every bit of this granola plain, pouring myself small cups full as snacks/desserts. it's definitely that good!