There’s an opportunity for laziness in every recipe. It floors me how easily we fall into traps we set for ourselves: We avoid baking cakes because it requires getting the pans out, avoid roasting chicken because we’re too lazy to trim the thing. It’s human nature, sure, but every time I recognize one of these habits in myself, I have to laugh, and wonder why one’s typical industriousness fails at random intervals.
This weekend, I rediscovered homemade granola. Someone had made it from scratch, and as I scooped it up with my yogurt yesterday, I remembered how much better it tastes baked in small batches. The cinnamon wasn’t quite evenly dispersed, so I got little grenades of flavor every third bite or so. It was unevenly chunky, which made eating it so much more of an adventure than eating its boxed cousin. I don’t like a granola that’s too predictable.
But I avoid making it often because I hate measuring the oatmeal. It invariably involves finding out that I don’t have enough for the particular recipe I’m using, and when I tip the oatmeal container toward the measuring cup, there’s always that risk of overflow, of having to watch, helpless, as I pour too fast and create a tumbling raw oat waterfall from the Quaker guy to my counter to the kitchen floor. An animal always picks that particular moment to venture into the kitchen, walks straight through the mess, and delivers the oats with perplexing dependability into each room in the house.
I’m not so keen on finding oatmeal on my pillow. So I rarely make it, even though it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.
Then last night, the last page of Gourmet magazine’s October 2007 issue reminded me how much flavor nut oils can give foods – they had recipes for muffins made with pecan oil, even. When I closed the magazine, my mind started spinning with the possibilities. I thought of granola, infused deep with nutty flavor, and opened the cupboard to find a new container of oats.
Then, another BFO: I could skip the measuring, and use the entire container.
Why have I never stumbled across a granola recipe that does this?
Honey-Nut-Vanilla Granola (PDF)
Recipe 302 of 365
Made with real vanilla beans, four different kinds of nuts, clover honey, and pecan oil, this granola packs flavor, crunch and punch. Enjoy it with milk or yogurt, or think outside the breakfast box: sprinkle granola over a spinach salad (maybe with a bit of bleu cheese) for a quick lunch, use it as a base for apple crisp topping, or cover a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and press the granola into the sides for decoration and extra flavor.
TIME: 20 minutes active time
MAKES: About 15 loose cups granola
1 cup high-quality honey
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 3” piece vanilla bean
1 18-ounce container (6 1/2 cups) old-fashioned oats
1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (raw or roasted will work)
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup nut oil, such as pecan, walnut, or hazelnut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats, and set aside.
Combine the honey, brown sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla bean in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the honey mixture, and stir to blend. Divide the granola between the two baking sheets, spreading it into an even layer on each sheet, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring the granola and rotating sheets top to bottom and back to front halfway through. The granola is done when it’s uniformly deep golden brown.
Let the granola cool to room temperature on the baking sheets. Break apart and store in an airtight container.