Olive oil and maple syrup granola: those two ingredients are non-negotiable but all the add-ons can be whatever you like best.
Olive oil granola? Seriously?
Olive oil for breakfast is not exactly a popular concept, even less so proposed in a sweet oat concoction.
When I first found Melissa Clark’s recipe in NY Times Cooking section, I was very sceptical.
It’s going to be so greasy! And smell like olive oil, which is all very well in a mixed salad but not in my breakfast bowl! And it will be bitter, as olive oil can be in large quantities!
None of the above is true. The fragrance is there but it’s a beautiful fragrance, rather than full-on smell.
No grease: this granola gets super crispy and crunchy by absorbing all the oil. You can scoop it with your fingers when trying if it’s toasted enough (you’ll do that several times), and they’ll remain clean.
And it’s amazingly good in a breakfast bowl, with the sweetness of the dried fruit and maple syrup. Certainly the best granola recipe that I have ever come across and/or made.
Granola, Melissa and I
Not without tweaks though. Melissa suggests putting an awful lot of pistachios into it, which might be delightful but makes it very costly – and that’s adverse to the point of making granola at home.
I add pistachios when I have any but the bulk of the nuts and seeds is made up with more modest sunflower and pumpkin.
And instead of coconut, I add flaked almonds but that’s just a personal preference.
Another thing I tweak is the sugar content. Melissa adds quite a lot of brown sugar on top of the maple syrup, which I think is redundant.
It’s supposed to be healthy breakfast, after all, and it’s plenty sweet already with the maple syrup and dried fruit.
The granola mix
The seeds and nuts should be added to the oats and toasted in the oven, but the fruit needs to come in after the baking. Otherwise it will get dried out and hard.
Whatever nuts and seeds you use, make the total amount about 250g (3 cups). They can be really anything you like beside what’s in the recipe: walnuts or hazelnuts, cashews or pecans, hemp, flaxseed or sesame.
Add some coconut chips if you’re partial to them, and/or almonds in the form of flakes, nibs or simply chopped, blanched or not.
All of that should be mixed in a bowl with the oats, the spices and the salt before the liquids are added. Once you pour in the oil and maple syrup, make sure it’s mixed very well again, so everything is evenly coated.
Toast till crunchy
This granola won’t clump up into clusters as in some other recipes but the taste makes up for it.
You can stir it halfway through the baking, to make it crispen up more evenly, but you’ll know when it’s ready: it’ll look dry, feel crisp and slide around the parchment easily.
And it will smell divine, of course.
Dried fruit mix
Melissa uses only dried apricots in her recipe but I like more variety, so it’s half and half with raisins. And it can be varied further, with dried cherries or cranberries, or any other dried fruit you prefer. Just make sure larger pieces are chopped into chunks roughly the size of raisins.
If you use mainly apricots, do try to buy organic ones. They look much darker and not quite so vibrant but the difference in the taste is incredible. Plus they are obviously much better for you.
Once the granola comes out of the oven, you can return it into the mixing bowl to toss it with the fruit.
I have practically been writing about possible variations in every sentence above, but this is a versatile recipe for a versatile breakfast cereal. So if maple syrup is not your thing, try it with runny honey.
Skip the dried fruit in summer time and serve your granola with fresh fruit. You can’t beat it when topped with berries and cold yoghurt!
Olive oil is non-negotiable, but use lighter, not extra virgin type. It’s more budget-friendly and won’t make much difference to the flavour.
More breakfast cereal recipes
Banana and nut granola clusters, crunchy and fragrant homemade cereal for those who like it ultra-crisp. The mix bakes into one large bar to be broken up into crunchy clusters.
Homemade muesli with oat, wheat and barley flakes, nuts, seeds and fruit and a good pinch of cinnamon. That’s the way to start the day!
Overnight oats with yoghurt and fresh fruit, the healthiest breakfast and a source of fibre. Overnight oats bowl is the simplest breakfast to prepare ahead and it will benefit from being soaked in homemade yoghurt.
More breakfast recipes
Semolina porridge not just for babies. With dried cranberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon, naturally sweet or with honey, it makes a nice change from oatmeal. Who said it was only fit for babies?
Lemon and blueberry flapjacks, easy to make and much healthier than off-the-shelf bars. Naturally flavoured with lemon juice and zest, with freeze-dried blueberries.
Cinnamon and raisin buns rolled up from challah dough are not too sweet and perfect for breakfast. Assemble, freeze, then get in the oven the night before for a breakfast treat!