If you made anything besides the standard pumpkin pie last week, which neatly uses exactly one can of pumpkin puree, chances are good you opened your refrigerator this weekend to find a half full can of pumpkin. You probably unearthed it as you removed containers, dishes, bags and bowls of Thanksgiving leftovers and wondered “what the hell am I supposed to do with that?” If you’re like me, you probably shoved it right back in with an instantly forgotten mental note to deal with it later. Well, if you haven’t already tossed it, now is the time.
You could go simple and throw it in a smoothie. Great fiber and whatever else orange vegetables have that you’re supposed to eat more of but don’t. Or you could make pumpkin waffles or pancakes. That would be lovely, wouldn’t it? But those need to be eaten immediately or frozen for later. So why not make granola? Yeah, granola. It’s got some redeeming health factors, stores well, comes together quickly, is perfect for using up those bits of nuts and fruits leftover from holiday baking, is easily customizable, makes a quick breakfast or snack and is a beautiful and thoughtful gift. How about that? I just gave you seven reasons and never once mentioned how delicious it is. And delicious it certainly is.
Homemade granola nearly broke the internet a few years back and it stemmed from this recipe for an olive oil granola. It was everywhere but in my house. The thing is, I like granola. A lot. Many a childhood morning was spent in front of the TV, watching cartoons and picking the dates out of a box of Quaker Granola. But when things start getting crazy popular – be it recipes, books, movies or what have you – I tend to go in the opposite direction. (Note to self: look into this Harry Potter wizard character.) So I never made that olive oil granola. I left it to others. In fact, I got a little tired of seeing it.
It wasn’t until last year that I threw my granola hat into the ring. The buzz had died down a bit, I’d been enjoying really fantastic granolas produced locally and thought I might now try my hand at it. After the first batch, all bets were off as I experimented with different flavor and ingredient combinations, learning what I liked and what I didn’t and finally landing on a rough guide of a recipe. For me, the key is the stuff. Sure the oats and such are fine but it’s the nuts and especially dried fruits that make it. Staring at that half can of pumpkin for the 50th time yesterday, I thought to try another batch incorporating the puree and complimentary spices. Dried cranberries certainly, but also pecans and pumpkin seeds to keep it festive. The base would be my standard oats, wheat bran and some flax seeds. Never hurts to sneak in some healthy bits.
Working off my base recipe and incorporating a fruit puree idea from Michael Ruhlman, I whipped up the liquid portion: pumpkin, coconut oil, salt, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup and because I like my granola a touch on the sweeter side, dark brown sugar. I added the nuts halfway through baking and the cranberries at the very end. Because the mixture is rather wet, it clumps nicely creating a pleasing mix of loose bits and chunky clusters that I like. I threw a handful over plain greek yogurt this morning with a drizzle of honey and made some rather loud and inappropriate exclamations. It’s pretty delicious.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: DOUBLE WHAMMY. First off, you’re using up something you just would have thrown out anyway so kudos to you. And to make something healthy(ish) too? Double points. This makes a reasonable batch, plenty for sharing and/or gifting and the flavors are appropriately festive and seasonal so I say, gift away. If you don’t care for the nut/fruit combination here feel free to mix it up but stick with the general proportions. And the special bonus extra? It uses some of that stupid jar of pumpkin pie spice that you don’t know where it came from but never seems to go away (or make your own spice mix– see below.) Anytime I can reduce the amount of crap in my cabinets, the better.
On this blog four years ago: Pumpkin Bundt Cake
On this blog three years ago: Bacon Cheddar Gougeres (Cheese Puffs)
On this blog two years ago: Cheese Straws
On this blog one year ago: Raw Kale and Roasted Squash Salad
PUMPKIN SPICE GRANOLA
Makes about 7 cups
It’s important to stir this throughout the baking process as the outside edges tend to brown more quickly than the center and moving things around will ensure even browning.
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice ( or 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground allspice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup wheat bran
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
½ cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 ½ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower position.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, water, vanilla, salt and pumpkin pie spice until well blended (If your coconut oil is solid, warm it gently in the microwave until pourable.) Make sure to dissolve or break up any brown sugar clumps if needed. The mixture should be smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, flax seeds and wheat bran.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture over the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated.
- Turn out onto a rimmed sheetpan or roasting pan, spreading to an even layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes, stir and continue baking for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, add the pecans and pumpkin seeds, stir to combine and bake for another 10 minutes, stir and bake for another 10 minutes until dry and crispy. If still a bit moist and soft, bake in additional 5 minute increments until dry.
- When the mixture has cooled, stir in the dried cranberries and store in an airtight container.