My husband is a granola fiend. I swear, the man goes through boxes of cereal like nobody's business. Best I can tell, he just inhales the contents.
As I had just purchased a ton of dried fruit from Nuts Online (I do highly recommend them, in spite of some serious Purolator issues), I really wanted to use them in something that would showcase the bright flavours.
Granola seemed to be the way to go! I'd left most of the tropical fruit (pineapple and mango) at work (where I had to have the shipment sent because Purolator is ridiculous), but had lots of orchard fruit on hand.
One of the best things about this recipe is it's very flexible. Vaguely maintain the oats-nuts-fruit ratio, and you have an infinite number of possibilities at your fingertips. You could stir in vanilla or almond extract (mix into the maple syrup) or replace half of the sweetener with a nut butter if you wanted. Don't like coconut? Forget about it.
As it stands, please note that this recipe doesn't result in clumps of granola, but evenly toasted and sweetened flakes.
Orchard Fruit Granola
(adapted from Mark Bittman/NY Times)
3 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
¼ cup almonds, chopped
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
2-3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup maple syrup (use less if you prefer a less sweet version. I wouldn't dip below ¼ cup though)
2 dried peaches halves, chopped
2 dried pear halves, chopped
¼ cup each sour cherries and rainier cherries, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 300º.
2. Place oats in a large pot set over medium heat. Toast, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes, or until oats are fragrant. Add nuts and seeds, and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Stir in coconut and cinnamon and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat, and stir in maple syrup.
3. Pour mixture into a 9"x13" baking pan and put in oven for about 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture a couple of times throughout those 20 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and add mixed fruit. Stir to distribute and let mixture cool in pan on a rack. Transfer to an airtight container when at room temperature.