Granola is a mainstay of my breakfast routine. To be honest, it’s a mainstay of my anytime routine. Like most of the rest of my family, I have a little bit of a problem with breakfast cereals. I would eat them for every meal (alternating, perhaps, with pizza), if I could get away with it.
For a long time, I had been tinkering with making granola at home. Every few weeks, I’d bake up an obscene amount of maple- or honey-coated oats. For a little while, I used a recipe based on Deborah Madison’s; then, after a while, I started in on some modifications based on one I saw by Stephanie Congdon Barnes; and, after I picked up Super Natural Cooking, I became obsessed with Heidi’s version, which uses coconut oil in place of canola. Mostly, though, I used olive oil as the fat in my recipes, and I thought I had it pretty well down to a science. I was wrong.
By now you have no doubt seen, or heard news of, the celebrated New York Times olive oil granola recipe. It is quite good, and like most granola recipes, able to put up with quite a bit of tinkering — I subbed in the kinds of nuts and seeds I had in the pantry, and you could, too. But the key to this granola, even more than the olive oil, is the salt. That’s right, the salt. There is a no-holds-barred whole teaspoon of salt in this recipe, and it works phenomenally well to bring out the savory richness of the oil and to temper the sweetness, which, in some granolas, can become almost grating.
I was converted to this recipe, I must point out, by Mel of Bitchin’ Camero, a former colleague and obviously a phenomenal cook. She had me at the title — Gingery Olive Oil Granola? Yes, please! — but when she mentioned a perfect salty/sweet ratio, I was sold.
Olive Oil Granola with Ginger and Currants
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in the New York Times
4 c. rolled oats
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/3 c. olive oil
3/4 c. Grade B Maple Syrup
1/2 c. turbinado sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 c. diced crystallized ginger
1/2 c. dried currants
Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix all the ingredients, except for the ginger and currants, in a large bowl. Spread the granola on two rimmed sheet pans and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. (Check the granola toward the end of baking time to be sure it doesn’t overcook. You want it to be golden and toasty, not brown.)
Remove the pans from the oven and let cool, then add the ginger and currants.
Makes about 8 cups