Or Why Granola Is Not Just for Hippies Anymore
Earlier this week I drove a colleague to a meeting near Gonzales. We were talking about a cookbook by David Chang and found that we both make Chang’s ginger-scallion sauce for noodles all the time. It’s a staple in my fridge because in a pinch all I have to do is boil some ramen noodles, mix in the sauce, and I have a meal.
I almost always have some tomato sauce in my freezer for the same reason; I can spend 2 hours making a gallon of sauce on the weekend that will make life a lot easier on a weeknight when my wife and I both get home late. Stock, usually chicken-based, is another staple for me. I get very nervous when I’m down to a single pint of the stuff in my freezer.
The topic got me thinking about another staple I try to keep around “on the reg” as the kids may or may not say: granola. When I was a kid, granola meant “health food,” and it was not something I wanted to eat. You could load it up with dried fruit, nuts and all sorts of other things, but at the end of the day, it was dry and bland. That was the 70s, when everyone, including my parents, had a jar of wheat germ in the fridge; what they used it for, I have no idea.
I hate to sound like I’m writing for "America’s Test Kitchen," but if you type “granola recipe” into your favorite search engine, you’ll find that almost all of the results call for either equal parts oats (and other grains or seeds) and fruit/nuts or a higher percentage of the latter. And worse, the fat-to-oat ratio tends to be far too low.
So I’ve come up with a recipe of my own, and while it’s not the sort of granola you could sell as a snack, it’s excellent with milk or yogurt in the morning. If you want to add fresh fruit, that works, and it’s also good as a streusel topping. Hell, I put it on ice cream now and then.
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 1/3 cup honey
- pinch salt
Preheat your oven to 325.
Mix the ingredients in a large bowl. Line 2 large baking sheets or roasting pans with parchment paper, then spread the oat mixture evenly. Bake until browned, about 20-30 minutes. Let the pans cool for 10 minutes, then store in an airtight container.
In addition to the above ingredients, I tend to add about 1 tablespoon of ground cardamom because I like cardamom. The beauty of this recipe is that it is very malleable; you can substitute just about anything but the oats. You can use chopped hazelnuts or pecans instead of the almonds or agave nectar instead of the honey; you can even use olive oil in place of the butter (though I would recommend keeping a little butter in the recipe) – and it will turn out great.
This is not “sweet” granola, nor does it clump. If you want the former, double the sweetener; if you want the latter, add an egg white to the fat/sweetener (though if you use melted butter, wait until it has cooled before adding the egg white).
If you must, you can also add other grains/seeds etc. to the mix in place of some of the oats. You can also add dried fruit, but again, I’d err on the side of “too little,” and start with ½ cup of something like dried cherries or cranberries. (Raisins are forbidden in my house because my wife and daughters are more or less convinced they are poison.)
Stored in a plastic container, this granola will keep for around two weeks, but it’s never around that long in my house.