Crunchy nirvana

Whew! After two days of “heavier” posts, I’m feeling like writing up something a little lighter, like a recipe. Sound good to you?
I saw this granola recipe in one of the daily e-mails I get from Saveur magazine last week, and immediately my brain said “Must make this!” Now, I’ve made granola before, and have half a dozen fab recipes that I turn to, but something about the pistachios and the touch of fleur de sel in this recipe reached out and grabbed me. I generally use walnuts, almonds and pecans (alone or in combination) in granola, and for some reason it never occurred to me to use pistachios. As it so happened, I had a partial bag of pistachios that were creeping close to their “use by” date. I also had fleur de sel. I did not have the golden raisins the recipe called for, and I opted for dried cranberries instead of regular raisins, mostly because I thought the color would look prettier with the pistachios. And we all know that prettier food is tastier food 😉
I also did not have the brown rice puffed cereal called for, and could not bring myself to buy any. Even made from brown rice, I don’t like what is done to grains to turn them into puffs. Not very healthy. So I dipped into a jar of oat groats that I had soaked for 24 hours and dehydrated (kind of a long, slow cooking method). I also considered simply increasing the amount of rolled oats. The touch of allspice was fantastic…it’s influence was subtle, but delicious. I’ve been enjoying it over plain Greek yogurt with berries and mango.
The 1/2 cup of honey was right around my sugar tipping point. The recipe was sweet, but not cloyingly so. Next time I make the recipe (and there will be a next time…it was great!) I might experiment with reducing the honey to 1/3 cup. Because I love pistachios with chocolate, and love chocolate with fleur de sel, I threw in a small handful of cocoa nibs that I had lying around (now I sound like Martha Stewart…next I’ll be trotting out 200-year-old antiques and saying, “Oh, I had this lying around in my attic”). The original recipe is here. My variation is below.

Pistachio-Coconut Olive Oil Granola
Makes 12 cups

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup soaked dehydrated oat groats OR additional rolled oats
1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut chips/flakes
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp. fleur de sel
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey

  1. Preheat oven to 300° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, rice, pistachios, coconut, flax, raisins, allspice, cinnamon, and salt. Using your hands or a large spoon, mix well to combine.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and honey over low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes. Whisk to combine, then pour over the dry mixture and toss to coat evenly. Divide between the prepared baking sheets, spreading mixture into an even layer.
  4. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the granola is golden brown, about half an hour. Transfer to large bowl. Stir occasionally as it cools (if you like large clusters and chunks, stir less often). Let cool completely before storing. If needed, break up larger pieces with your hands. Granola keeps, sealed in an airtight container, for up to three weeks.

In the spirit of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (on forced hiatus until the end of the month), here’s a nice little Opinionator piece from Mark Bittman on how there may be some hope for “The Future of Cafeteria Food.” I especially liked his comments on the Meatless Monday concept…how replacing meat with a bunch of cheese may be meatless, but it isn’t exactly healthy.