Very often I wake up being hungry. Even more often - just because of feeling hungry. It's still fairly dark outside, the stars are only in the beginning of saying goodbye to the night, the street lights are still enjoying the last dream of their own while I am heading to the kitchen to drown into the deeply enchanting fragrance of my morning coffee. Perfectly strong, comfortably bitter and hidden under the gloriously thick and creamy foam. The magic begins, and every sip starts with gentle touch of secretly sweet milk softness which is gracefully melting in the mouth by leaving behind a very subtle and mild coffee flavor. I like it to be well roasted and with a strong self expression so that in a moment of facing the fluffy and creamy foam it would still hold its bitterish tone. I used not to like coffee just because of this. No, that's the reason why I love my coffee.
And I love breakfast. Something sweet to accompany this bitterly biting coffee, something healthy to start the morning in the best possible way, and something nutritious to successfully withstand a messy winter happening outside. In that case, choosing home-made granola is something to be right about.
I love playing around with my granola. I love combining, pairing, harmonising or just spontaneously mixing together different treasures of my pantry with a hope for absolutely perfect flavor. It took me a while to reach the spot of ideal combination of sweetness and crunchiness, the one that I could not make go out of my mind even when the breakfast is over a while ago, but it was worth the efforts. Eventually every morning I have ideally toasted granola with a slight smoky sense and perfect sweetness coming from the honey, molasses and brown sugar fusion.
To get the crispiness I usually use grape seed oil. It does not have any flavor and it is high in antioxidants, rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. It is also cholesterol free and helps lower the bad cholesterol while raising the good one. All in all, it's a good stuff itself, so it makes the granola good either.
The better fat, I guess, is (just) the olive oil, and this time I decided to give it a try. The flavors came out to be brilliantly balanced, beginning with chewy and flowery sweetness of the honey, slowly converting into delicately savory and almost bitter notes of the olive oil, illuminating very pleasant salty tones of pistachios and finally ending with refreshing fruitiness of dried apricots. Everything was there playing an astonishing symphony in my mouth. At that moment I could not think of anything more lovely than that kind of break of dawn...
Olive Oil Granola with Honey, Salted Pistachios and Dried Apricots
adapted from The New York Times
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup salted pistachios, hulled
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut flakes
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C) degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, sunflower seeds, coconut, honey, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that the mixture will not get burned on the sides. Bake till granola is nicely golden brown and well toasted. But it always up to you - if you want more crunchy granola then you should bake it longer, if more chewy - bake it less.
When granola is done, transfer it to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Keep in a jar or other kind of air tight dish.