I love cooking. That much is obvious I guess. But I also love, love, love eating. For me, a meal is an occasion – even if it is just a tomato sandwich. Don’t think doughy government-issue white bread slathered with chemically-suspect marg and grainy tomatoes that are more pink than red. That’s so 80s darling. Think ciabatta still warm from the oven, crisp on the outside, soft and holey on the inside. Think ripe-red rosa tomatoes bursting with sunshine flavour, a sprig of basil, a drizzle of fruity olive oil, freshly-milled black pepper and a kiss of flaky fleur de sel salt… Now we’re talking.
Given this, my attitude to breakfast Monday through Friday may come as a bit of a surprise. Yup, when I’m in a hurry, instant oats blitzed in the micro for a minute or two is not unheard of in my house. In my own defence, I do tart it up a bit with a dusting of cinnamon. Naturally I feel bad about it. Not the cinnamon part, the instant oats part. So I’ve vowed to clean up my act.
What can I make for weekday breakfasts that 1) takes less than a minute 2) is yummy 3) nutritious and – because we all know this is important – 4) pretty too? Granola of course!
You can buy it, but it’s probably more expensive and doesn’t give you bragging rights that you make your own. I whipped up a batch big enough to keep me in brekkie for a month. Add a generous helping of thick, full-cream Greek yoghurt and my 30-second berry compote and you’ve got a pretty decent little breakfast – in under a minute.
All you need is…
For the granola
5 cups rolled oats (the one with large flakes, not instant or quick-cook oats – look in the health section of your supermarket)
1 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds
1 cup pecan nuts, roughly chopped
½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
½ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
1½ tsp vanilla extract
8 tablespoons golden syrup (or honey, or a mixture of the two)
1½ cup dried cranberries
For the instant berry compote
frozen mixed summer berries (Woolies has, or try the one from Hillcrest)
berry jam (raspberry, strawberry or blackberry)
lemon or lime juice
Preheat your oven to 155 degrees Celsius. Add the oats and all the nuts to a large bowl along with the salt. Add the oil, vanilla extract and syrup and mix through well so everything is evenly coated. (If find it’s easier if I add the syrup to the oil and blast it in the micro for 30 seconds before I add it to the dry mixture.)
Spread the mix out on two large baking trays and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden. Stir halfway through. Remove and allow to cool completely. You will get bigger granola chunks if you press down on the mixture while it is still warm and allow it to cool that way. Once cool, add the dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
To make instant berry compote for one person, heat a tablespoon of berry jam in the micro for 10-20 seconds until melted. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the frozen berries to the melted jam. The heat from the jam will thaw them almost instantly. I like a bit of acid to offset the sweet, so I like adding a squirt of lemon or lime juice. Layer with the granola and thick natural yoghurt.
This recipe is the perfect base for all sorts of granola mixes. Play with nuts, seeds and fruit and find your winning combo. See Tips, Tricks & Trivia below for some ideas to start you off.
Until next time