This recipe has spent a long time sitting on my “to cook” list. Far too long at that. It first popped up on my radar last fall while I diligently read each and every vignette in Melissa Clark’s first cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. (Yes, I reference this cookbook a lot. That means you should probably check it out.) In the story preceding her Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios, Clark describes a frenzy at the farmer’s market. Weaving through hordes of people, she was greeted by this very granola, which hails from New York via Early Bird Granola. After a sampling she realized the cause for uproar and, when I baked the granola up, so did I.
Wanting to bring a treat up to my friend’s farm where I spent New Years, I remember Melissa Clark’s olive oil granola recipe and the love for its inspiration the farmer’s market goers had. I adapted it swapping pecans for pistachios, cinnamon and ginger for cardamom, and dried cranberries for apricots. The resulting granola was both sweet and savory with that wonderful, but at the same time terrible, “I could eat this whole batch right now” quality. It was good. I liked it. But I thought there had to be something better out there.
That’s when I stumbled upon versions of the Early Bird granola recipe on Lottie + Doof and Food52, finally finding the actual, real, Early Bird owner-written recipe on the Martha Stewart website. It was hard to resist tweaking. I wanted to add ground flax and wheat germ, throw in some dried fruit, and substitute some kind of nut for the sunflower seeds. But I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t make this granola – with its sweet-salty and ever so slightly bitter flavor – any better.
Early Bird Granola
from Early Bird Granola via Martha Stewart
I most recently followed the original Early Bird recipe posted below. However, I’ve also tried variations on it. In my favorite variation I upped the pecans to 1 1/2 cups, omitted the sunflower seeds, and added a 1/2 cup of flax seed, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and ginger, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. If you decided to add dried fruit remember to mix it in after you take the granola out of the oven. Feel to adjust as desired, but bear in mind, the original is quite good just the way it is.
Makes about 7 cups
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut chips
1 1/4 cup raw pecan, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade A
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.
Remove granola from oven and season with salt. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.