I tweaked it a bit to use ingredients that were already in my kitchen...and I came up with some seriously addictive granola! It features toasted coconut, oatmeal, a variety of nuts, lemon/lime/tangerine zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, and sesame seeds. It's flavored with olive oil instead of vegetable oil. While that may sound strange, I discovered that it gave the granola a lovely fruity fragrance and a deep flavor. Since there's just two of us at Casa Garcia, I made a half batch...which is four cups. But you can easily double it to make a family-sized batch. If you make the larger batch, just make sure to cook it on two cookie sheets to ensure it gets nice and crunchy!
Homemade Sesame-Olive Oil Granola
adapted from The Best American Recipes 2002-2003
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375. Evenly spread 1/2 cup sweetened coconut on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Cook for 10 minutes, until golden-brown and toasted. Give it a stir every two or three minutes so it browns evenly and doesn't burn.
Step 2: While the coconut is toasting, combine the following ingredients in a microwave-safe measuring cup: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup agave nectar, zest of one lime, zest of one lemon, zest of one tangerine, and 1/3 cup dark brown sugar. Stir well to combine and microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes...until it's bubbly. Set aside to cool while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3: Add 2 cups oatmeal, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I used a combo of pecans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and slivered almonds), 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. allspice (or nutmeg), and the toasted coconut. Add the syrup mixture in the measuring cup and stir well to evenly combine the ingredients.
Step 4: Evenly spread the granola onto your lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. The granola will be golden brown, but won't appear to be crunchy. Don't worry...it crisps up as it cools! Let the granola cool for about 20 minutes.
Step 5: Transfer the cooled granola to a large mixing bowl Add 1 cup dried fruit of your choice. I used golden raisins since that's what I had in the kitchen, but I think dried cranberries or cherries would be really nice additions as well. Stir well to combine. Store the granola at room temperature in an airtight container. The original recipe says it'll stay fresh for up to 1 month.
I really love this granola! It was so simple to make and tastes much fresher than the store-bought stuff. It's light and crispy...not the least bit hard. Here's a close-up so you can see how well all the components blend together.
The sesame seeds gave the granola a subtle nutty flavor in every bite, and the golden raisins gave it nice chewy bite. Next time, I'll likely double the zest so the citrus flavor is a bit more pronounced. The combo of agave nectar, brown sugar, and olive oil gave the granola a perfectly balanced sweetness and depth of flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper and something I'll be making regularly so I can have it on hand all the time!