I’ve just discovered a great new Trader Joe’s find this week: Country Choice brand Organic Multigrain Hot Cereal. I blindly picked up a container thinking it was rolled oats and I didn’t realize my mistake until I was already standing at the checkout line. Out of pure laziness, I just decided to go with it (if your Trader Joe’s is anything like mine on a Saturday morning, you know exactly what I mean). And I’m so glad I did! Rather than just plain old-fashioned rolled oats, this multigrain cereal was a blend of rolled oats, barley, rye, and wheat. It looks just like rolled oats, just toastier in color. I used it in place of rolled oats for my olive oil granola recipe and I don’t think I can go back. The flavor is so much more interesting and gives the granola a richer, deeper, toastier flavor than when it’s made with just oats. You must give this a try! You can find Country Choice Multigrain Hot Cereal at Trader Joe’s (I bought mine for $2.30)or online through Amazon.
After discovering how ridiculously easy it is to make my own granola, I will never go back to buying the commercial stuff. First, commercial granola is crazy expensive compared to how much it costs to make your own. Second, I usually find it way too sweet for my taste. Also, when you make granola at home, it’s completely customizable. And you all know how much I love improvisation! Granola couldn’t be easier to make at home. If you can pour and mix, you can make this. (R, I’m talking to you!)
My favorite recipe comes from Melissa Clark. Usually, granola recipes call for a neutral oil which help the oats crisp up in the oven. However, I’ve never found neutral oils like canola to be very neutral at all. Does anyone else think canola oil has a little bit of a …petroleum aftertaste? Weird. This recipe calls for spicy, fruity olive oil. The thought that this recipe comes right out and highlights the oil definitely captured my attention. Plus, she adds a hefty dose of salt. Much more than I’m used to seeing. That was the final clincher. The thought of that salty-sweet combination was just too intriguing to turn down.
I love a little bowl of plain Greek yogurt topped with vanilla apple compote
(stay tuned for the recipe!) and a handful of this granola. Do give this recipe a try. I think it will become your favorite as well!
Olive Oil Granola
I kept my granola to just nuts, but feel free to add any dried fruits you like. Just toss it in with the cooked granola before storing (don’t bake the dried fruit, which will burn). Chopped apricots, dried cherries, raisins, cranberries, dates, and figs are all really great additions. I prefer keeping my granola to just nuts so that it’s customizable each time – cherries and figs today, vanilla apple compote tomorrow.
3 cups Country Choice multigrain cereal (oats, rye, barley, wheat – I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
2 cups mixed raw pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews, very roughly chopped (or whatever nuts you like)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (original calls for ¾ cup – use more if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (original calls for ½ cup, but I find ¼ cup nicely coats all the oats and nuts)
1/2 cup (scant) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients; mix very well so that all the oats and nuts are coated with oil and syrup and the sugar is not clumpy. Pour mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
Bake for 45 minutes. Gently stir the granola every 10 minutes, or so until golden brown and the nuts and oats are well toasted.
Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.