my favorite granola

I'm afraid I need to make a correction. I must retract my excitement for TJ's Pumpkin Spice granola that I shared a few weeks ago in this post. Once I tried it, I must report that, like most store-bought granola, it is too sweet for my taste. I don't know why I continue to be lured into thinking boxed granola will be delicious when I've already found my perfect granola recipe and it is so easy to make. My favorite granola is an adaptation of Early Bird Foods' Farmhand's choice granola.

I first tried Early Bird's granola when it was given to me by my sweet friend Lauren as I was moving out of New York. It was part of a care package of snacks for the road, and once I opened it, I don't think it lasted beyond New Jersey. This granola was unlike any I'd ever tasted, it was crisp and crunchy, but without those tooth-cracking clusters. It was lightly sweet and a little salty. I didn't know then that it was a combo of olive and maple syrup that gave it such a fantastic texture, I just knew it was delicious. Once I finished off that first bag, I was far from New York and didn't know where to get more. Years went by, and I would occasionally think of it when eating yet another mediocre granola. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I stumbled upon the recipe on the blog Orangette last year. I immediately went out and bought the ingredients to make it, and it was every bit as great as I remembered.

The Best Olive Oil and Maple Granola
adapted from Nekisia Davis and Food 52

Makes about 7 cups.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (I prefer grade B)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat to prevent sticking.

Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and stir. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.

Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

This recipe is delicious as written, but can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. I sometimes omit the brown sugar for a less sweet everyday granola. The pecans are excellent, but walnuts or almonds are also a tasty way to switch it up. Dried cherries, cranberries, or raisins are a delicious addition once the granola is baked and cooled. One ingredient I must recommend you do not omit is the coconut flakes. I'm generally not a fan of coconut, but the flakes don't have much of a coconut flavor once baked. You can usually find them in the bulk section of natural foods stores, and they bake up to a light, crispy texture that really sets this granola apart.

P.S. I do still stand by my recommendation for Trader Joe's Pumpkin Greek Yogurt. It is particularly delicious with this granola.

[photos from Food 52]

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