Ahh lovely readers, I've missed you! I've been posting sporadically at best for the past month, because work has been absolutely insane and I haven't had time to even enter the kitchen, let alone write about it. That last post on zucchini soup was my lame attempt to give you reading material while I was at work, so as not to abandon you completely -- but I unwittingly passed along a post from last year, just before my Alaska cruise, and let you all think I was headed on a fabulous vacation. Not so! I spent Labor Day.....well, laboring. At the office. Until very late. But now all that should be behind me because we signed off on our research yesterday, and all that's left to do is write the accompanying speech. I'm hoping today is the beginning of my re-entry into my favorite room of the apartment. Cross your fingers for me, will you?
Busy times at the office need to end with something restorative. Sometimes it's a big bowl of pho, with its etherial broth and slurp-tastic noodles. Other times it's a piece of good toast with some homemade jam. This morning, the first in a month that I haven't had to start a 15-hour day at 8:30 am, I made my own granola.
I once was in the habit of making granola every week. It's a good thing to have around for breakfast in the morning, and it pairs great with that super-tart yogurt in the fridge. But lately there's been no time for such simple pleasures, and breakfast has consisted mostly of whatever I grabbed the night before at Trader Joe's. Needless to say, I was more than ready to put my own labor hours back into the food I eat.
My usual granola has almond butter, which I find creates clumps better than water or oil and whose flavor doubles down on the granola's nutty flavor. This morning, though, I was out of almond butter, so I went with tahini (sesame butter), which has a similar texture, instead. To balance the flavor of tahini, which can be overwhelming if not used sparingly, I added a splash of walnut oil, as well as a bit of chopped crystallized ginger, which paired well with the sesame flavor and gave a little punch. A generous pinch of cinnamon and a whisper of cloves brought the granola squarely into fall's territory, which I suppose is appropriate, given that the weather is dreary and it's dark when I wake up these days.
I was still concerned that the tahini might overwhelm, but it totally doesn't: because the granola cooks until golden, the other flavors in there -- almonds, oats, ginger, cherries, raisins -- get a chance to toast and intensify, bringing the sesame flavor into balance. I LOVE this batch and plan on making another one, some other not-super-early morning.
Hope you all had great weekends, and I look forward to seeing you around here more regularly!
Granola with Tahini
2 1/2 cups oats 1/3 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup tahini 1 Tbsp walnut oil, optional 2/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), either salted or unsalted, depending on preference 2/3 cup sliced almonds 2/3 cup chopped pecans 2/3 cup raisins, cranberries, or other dried berry (I like half raisins, half cherries) 2 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger 1/2 tsp salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon cloves
Preheat oven to 325.
In a small bowl, mix syrup, tahini, oil if using, salt, and cinnamon until incorporated. In a large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients until well-distributed. Drizzle the syrup-tahini mixture overtop, stirring with a fork until all dry bits are at least slightly wet and clumps have started to form.
Spread granola on a large rimmed baking sheet in a thin layer and bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, stir with a fork to move pieces from edge to center and from top to bottom. Make sure pieces that have started to brown are in the center and well-surrounded. Return to oven and bake 10-12 more minutes, until golden brown throughout. Granola will not be crunchy when it leaves the oven; don't worry -- it'll crisp up as it cools. Once cool, transfer to air-tight container; granola will keep this way for up to 1 month.