Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

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I was wandering the produce section of the grocery store last Friday, in search of sun-dried tomatoes – they have rearranged since the last time I bought them. I finally found them, hiding behind the grapefruit. Alongside the packages of dried tomatoes were jars of sun-dried tomato pesto and other tomato based spreads. I was tempted, since I had never bought the pesto before, but I decided to make my own after looking at the ingredients on a jar – water, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and various thickeners. I figured I could make my own and it would be better, and cheaper.

I whirled the dried tomatoes in the food processor, along with two cloves of garlic. I ended up with a processor full of tiny, sticky bits of tomatoes. I added olive oil and whirled it again. Now I had a processor full of tiny, oily bits of tomatoes. The pesto definitely needed more moisture. I didn’t want to make it too oily by adding more olive oil, so I thought of adding boiling water to rehydrate the tomatoes. Probably if I had been smart, I would have done that as my very first step. My way worked, after many tries of adding a tablespoon of water and processing and then adding another tablespoon. I think I was too hesitant at first. I used almost a half cup of water, but I ended up with a lovely, smooth paste. I tasted it and it was flat and one-dimensional.

After adding a pinch of sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes, as well as a little salt and pepper, it still needed something. Traditional basil pesto has pine nuts, so I figured I should add a few nuts. I didn’t have any pine nuts and pecans seemed a perfect partner for sun-dried tomatoes, so I threw in a few and whirled it again. Pretty much perfection – intense, almost meaty, tomato flavor, with richness from the pecans. The garlic was a little sharp, so I will probably use only one clove next time. Especially if I am going to use it raw, as a spread for bread or tossed with hot pasta.

I ended up with more than a cup of tomato pesto and a little goes a long way – I am looking forward to figuring out how to use my stash. I already used some as a layer inside stuffed chicken (post coming Friday) and am planning on spreading a thin layer on pizza instead of our regular tomato sauce. And then I might make crostini with a layer of the tomato pesto and a sprinkling of goat cheese or Parmesan cheese. I tried a version of that right after I made the pesto, and it was good, but it would have been better after a minute under the broiler to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

What would you make with sun-dried tomato pesto?

Download or print recipe here.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
From The Cook’s Life
Makes about 1 cup

Use in chicken dishes, as a different kind of pizza sauce, stirred into hot pasta or spread on crostini for an appetizer.

Adjust the garlic and olive oil amounts to suit your tastes. Two cloves makes it very garlicky, one will be milder. More olive oil will produce a richer paste. Feel free to use any nuts you prefer – I like the rich sweetness of pecans with the tomatoes.

3 ounces dry packed sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pecan halves
salt
pepper
1-2 teaspoons sugar, optional
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
¼-½ cup boiling water, approximately

Whirl tomatoes, garlic and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Add salt, pepper and sugar, if using, to taste, along with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and process again. If tomatoes are really dry, and you just have oily bits instead of a paste, add about ¼ cup of boiling water and process again. Continue adding water and processing until you have a mostly smooth paste. Store in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage.

Roasted Garlic

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I get so hung up in trying new recipes and making up recipes that I forget to highlight techniques and easy things that can really enhance a dish. I love garlic, but it can be kind of harsh and overpowering sometimes. Roasting garlic can bring out all of its inherent sweetness, and it couldn’t be easier.

This one isn’t even worth a recipe, just a description of the process. Take a whole head of garlic and peel off most of the outer paper covering. Make sure you leave enough to keep the whole thing together. Snip off the very tips of each clove with kitchen shears or nip them off with a sharp knife. Place the garlic in a small pan and drizzle with just a bit of olive oil. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until cloves feel soft inside when pressed. If garlic is getting too brown before it gets soft, cover the pan with foil for the last few minutes of cooking. Once the garlic is soft, let it cool enough to handle and squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. If your garlic isn’t quite soft enough, like my last batch, run a knife through it to chop it into small pieces.

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You now have a stash of rich, nutty garlic paste to add to pizza or pasta sauce, spread onto pizza crust instead of sauce, add to rubs for meat or add to butter or olive oil to make killer garlic bread.

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Be sure you double wrap it in the fridge, or store it in double containers, to contain the garlic aroma. You don’t want your garlicky goodness to take over your entire fridge, especially your butter. While garlic bread is good, garlic-tainted butter on your breakfast toast isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

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I love the bags of sweet potato chips from the store, but I don’t love the calorie count or the price. I have been working on my own baked version for months now, with various levels of success. I have made leathery chips, shattering chips and many, many burned chips. I finally am to the point that I am consistently making crunchy chips with a nice sweet potato flavor, and without burning most of them.

I tried high heat in the beginning, thinking to treat the chips like oven fries. No go. I managed to burn most of the chips blacker than charcoal; only saving about six edible chips. Then I tried very low heat, which did make sort of crispy chips, while they were hot. When they cooled they were leathery and hard to chew. Not a pleasant eating experience when you are expecting crispy chips. I think sweet potatoes have a bit of a Goldilocks syndrome, liking it not too hot or too cold. I used moderate heat and they were just right, crispy without a hint of chewiness, lightly browned and full of sweet potato flavor.

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It is important to slice the potatoes thin enough. Too thick and you will never get them crispy before they burn. I have a mandolin that works beautifully. If you don’t have one, use a food processor. You can use a knife, but it is hard to get them consistently thin enough. My slices were almost see-through and were certainly thinner than I could get them with a knife.

This is not a recipe to make when you are distracted with too many things. You can’t throw them in the oven and walk away until the timer goes off. Trust me. You need to be in the kitchen to make sure you aren’t incinerating your beautifully sliced sweet potatoes. You don’t have to pull up a chair and watch them through the oven door’s window, but you do need to be in the same room while they are baking so you can smell if they are getting too brown. You can certainly do these while you are making dinner. Or while you wash dishes or organize the pantry or whatever kitchen chores suit your fancy.

One sweet potato, sliced very, very thin makes a bunch of chips. Now I am even more amazed at how much a bag costs in the store, since it probably contains about a potato and a half. Leave the expensive bags of fried chips at the store and bake some of your own. And then eat them, warm from the oven, licking salt from your fingers and patting yourself on the back for making a healthy snack.

Download or print just the recipe here.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 3-4 cups chips

Cooking spray
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.

Peel, if desired, and slice sweet potato into very thin slices. I use a mandolin set on the thinnest setting – the slices are less than 1/16th of an inch thick. You can also use a food processor with the thinnest slicing blade. A knife will work, but you need a very sharp blade and patience.

Arrange the sweet potato slices on the greased baking sheets. You can overlap them, but try to keep only the edges overlapping. The sweet potatoes will shrink when you bake them, leaving plenty of room later. If you end up with any half slices or extra thin slices, double them up so they won’t burn.

Drizzle the slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven and turn slices over. Yes, you need to turn them all over. It is tedious, but it helps them to crisp. Move the browner edge slices to the middle of the pan and move the middle slices to the edges. Return to oven for 15 more minutes. Stay in the kitchen. If you start to smell brown sweet potatoes, check the pans immediately.

After 15 minutes, remove pans from oven. Remove any chips that are crispy and browning. Yes, take them off now. Don’t think they will be fine while the other chips cook. They won’t. They will burn. Take them off the pan. Return any limp chips to the oven for five more minutes. Stay in the kitchen. Repeat until all chips are crispy.

Cool on pans or on a plate. Chips will get slightly crispier as they cool. Store in an airtight container for a few days, or eat them warm from the oven until they are gone.

Date Night Flatbread Pizzas

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Rich and I had planned to go out to dinner last night and then maybe to a movie. Calvin has the day off from school today and had an overnight last night with my parents, so we were footloose and fancy free. Of course, when it came time to pick a restaurant, Rich and I were clueless. Even after running through a litany of old favorites and new possibilities, we ended up with a big, fat zero. The process of choosing was stressing us out, so we decided to stop trying to force it and make something at home instead.

Flatbread pizzas had caught my eye on several of the menus we perused. I do find that name kind of funny, and even redundant – what is a pizza, if not a flatbread, after all? But it is a recognizable thing on restaurant menus, so I’ll stick with the name, even if it offends my literal tendencies just a little bit.

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I mixed up our standby whole wheat pizza dough and let it rise while we concocted and gathered the rest of the ingredients. We had one shallot, which I decided to caramelize. It was as easy as pie to let it slowly transform to a lovely golden brown in the pan while we worked on the rest of dinner. I’m not sure why I have never caramelized shallots before, though if I had, we would have realized that a trip to the store for a few more would have been worth it. We both agreed we wanted at least twice as many shallots on our flatbreads.

In addition to the shallots, we used Jarlsberg, mozzarella, ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano, a little diced chicken breast from the freezer, fresh rosemary from my plant in the flowerbed, thinly sliced apple, garlic and olive oil.

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We made one flatbread with garlic, rosemary, chicken and mozzarella, one with rosemary, garlic and all the cheeses and two with apple, Jarlsberg and shallots. They were as good as some restaurant flatbread pizzas we have had. And we got to make them with exactly the toppings we wanted.

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Our evening was a little more low key than our original plans, but we weren’t complaining. We got a cozy evening together, cooking, eating and spending time doing exactly what we wanted – sounds like a perfect date night to me.

Oven Crisped Zucchini

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I am always looking for new ways to make zucchini, since it is a popular vegetable with the picky eaters in the house. We first started our love affair with the dark green squash with restaurant zucchini fritti. Of course we love that one – deep fried zucchini topped with Parmesan cheese – but I am not going to make it at home. As I have mentioned before, I have never deep-fried anything and when I do it is going to be a doughnut, not a vegetable.

The latest recipe is our attempt to mirror restaurant zucchini fritti without the deep fryer. Restaurant zucchini usually has some type of coating, though not a full breading. I have seen recipes for using egg and breadcrumbs to bread the zucchini, but I don’t want to put that much work into a side dish, and I don’t like to disguise a vegetable quite that much. I settled on dredging the slices in flour with a little added garlic powder and salt.

I used my new mandolin (thanks to Rich’s mom) to slice the zucchini the long way. I am already looking for other things to slice. When I asked for the mandolin for Christmas I thought maybe I was indulging myself too much, since I already have a food processor and not a lot of cabinet space. But I love my new tool and am already thinking of new things to slice.

Our attempt to make oven baked zucchini fritti was a success the first try. We had it again last night and I think it will become a part of the side dish rotation, at least until we think of another new zucchini recipe.

Download or print recipe here.

Oven Crisped Zucchini
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 2-3

2-3 tablespoons olive oil, approximately, divided
½ cup flour, approximately
garlic powder
salt
2 medium zucchini, sliced vertically into long, thin slices
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, approximately

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.

Mix flour with a few shakes of garlic powder and salt. Dredge zucchini slices in the flour to lightly cover both sides. Don’t make the coating too thick. Arrange coated zucchini in a single layer on baking sheets. Drizzle slices with additional olive oil.

Bake zucchini for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and turn slices over. Drizzle with a little olive oil if slices seem dry. Return pans to oven for 5 minutes. Remove any browned, crispy slices to a plate and return pans to oven for less crispy slices to finish cooking. Watch carefully at this point, as the zucchini can get too brown in no time.

Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I have been on a quest to make baked sweet potato fries for several months. Sweet potatoes are a staple in our house, so I am always looking for new ways to make them. White potatoes get nice and crispy in the oven, but sweet potatoes don’t always. I have done absolutely no research on this, but my private theory is that the high amount of sugar in the sweet potatoes makes them burn before they crisp.

I think I have found the method to get mostly crispy sweet potato fries. I have decided that unless I get out the oil and deep fry them, I am never going to get 100% crispiness, but as I said in my post on Roasted Parmesan Potatoes, if I fry anything it will be a doughnut, not a vegetable.

The baking method isn’t hard, and it doesn’t require constant babysitting, unlike baked sweet potato chips. I cut the sweet potatoes into long fries and arranged them in even rows on the pan (this was a little fiddly, but it’s worth it). I drizzled them fairly heavily with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and baked them on the bottom rack of a 400-degree oven, turning them over after 15 minutes. I checked on them after another 10 minutes and they were almost there. A few more minutes in the oven and they were as close to perfection as I think baked sweet potato fries are going to get.

The fries were crispy on most of the outside surfaces, especially on the ends, and soft inside. They had a nicely caramelized, concentrated sweet potato flavor. And they were crispy enough to eat with my fingers, with no hint of flabbiness. Pretty much everything I was looking for in a sweet potato fry. Try them and tell me what you think.

Download or print the recipe here.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 4

4 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, approximately
Salt
Cinnamon, black pepper or cayenne powder, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside.

Peel the sweet potatoes, if desired, and cut them into long strips, like French fries. Try to make them as uniform in size and shape as possible, but don’t make yourself crazy over it.

Arrange the fries on the baking sheet in several rows, lining them up side by side. Try to leave a little space between them. This will help them to cook evenly and make turning them easier later. Put any smaller fries toward the middle of the sheet where they will cook more slowly.

Drizzle the fries with olive oil. Don’t drown them, but do use a couple of tablespoons. Sprinkle the fries with salt.

Place the pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn fries over with a spatula or tongs and return them to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes. Check the bottoms to make sure they aren’t getting too brown. Turn them again and bake for another 5 minutes if they aren’t crispy and browned. Stay in the kitchen at this point, as they can go from brown to black in minutes. Bake until the fries are well browned and crispy. Sprinkle fries with cinnamon, black pepper or cayenne powder, or all three. Or leave them plain. Serve hot.

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

I don’t fry things; in fact I have never deep-fried anything. Don’t get me wrong, I eat fried foods, but I am not a fan of working with large quantities of hot oil. I will do it one day, but when I do, it is going to be a doughnut, not a potato. Roasting potatoes that are coated with olive oil is about the closest I am going to get to making my own French fries. Roasted Parmesan potatoes will make you forget all about fries, and maybe even the rest of the meal.

You can’t get much easier than this recipe. Scrub and chop potatoes, toss with a little (or a lot) of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and a little rosemary (or not). Spread on a baking pan, add a little more cheese and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. You end up with golden brown potatoes, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Another addition of cheese and you will be in potato eaters’ heaven.

Download or print the recipe here.

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 4

4-5 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Golds, but any kind will do)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (use the real stuff, not the green can), divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside. Scrub potatoes and peel, if desired. I didn’t peel them this time. Cut potatoes into approximately 1-inch cubes.

Toss potatoes with olive oil, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper. Spread in single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

Roast undisturbed for 15 minutes, then use a spatula to gently turn and stir potatoes. Roast for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Bake a few extra minutes if potatoes aren’t golden brown. Top potatoes with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve while hot.

Olive Oil Focaccia

 

I love making up names for recipes. It is so easy to make it sound fancy and gourmet. Olive oil focaccia sounds so much better than leftover pizza dough flatbread. Gourmet name aside, this recipe couldn’t be easier. I took half of my recipe of no-knead whole wheat pizza dough and made a killer loaf of bread, if I say so myself– slightly crispy on top, soft in the middle and fragrant with olive oil.

In case you missed the description of this dough in my original pizza post – this dough is truly no-knead, plus you can mix it up in about five minutes, and it can rise for anywhere from two hours to twenty-four. Make the dough fit into your schedule, instead of changing yours to fit the dough’s.

I mixed this up in the early afternoon and left it on the counter for about four hours before I used it. I meant to let it rise in the pan for about half an hour, while I made pizza with the other half of the dough. I ended up getting distracted and it rose for more than an hour. It worked beautifully.

Even if you have never made bread or worked with yeast before, you can make this bread. Buy some yeast, get out the flour and start baking. And please post in the comments to let me know how it worked for you or if you have any questions.

Olive Oil Focaccia
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 2 9 or 10-inch loaves

You can let this rise for up to twenty-four hours before you shape it and bake it. Let it rise in the fridge if you are letting it rise for more than four hours.

3 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
½ cup all-purpose flour (unbleached preferred)
1 package yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 ½ cups water, approximately
Olive oil for drizzling and serving

Put all ingredients except water in your largest bowl. Add 1 cup water and stir to combine. If there is still dry flour, add water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until a very wet dough forms. You aren’t looking for batter here, but a dough. It will be too soft to knead and look quite wet. Once everything is well combined, beat and mix the dough with your spoon or spatula for a minute or so. Cover dough with plastic wrap and put in the fridge or leave on the counter. If it is rising on the counter, you might need to stir the dough down every couple of hours if it is filling the bowl. Stir it a few times and re-cover. If it is in the fridge, just leave it to do its thing.

Lightly grease 2 10-inch cast iron skillets, round cake pans or a baking sheet. Use the pans you have – if you only have 8-inch round pans, your loaves will just be a little taller.  If you use the baking sheet, your loaves might be a little more freeform, and not perfectly round – which is fine.

Sprinkle the dough with flour and work the flour down around the edge of the bowl with a spatula. Divide the dough in half with a spatula or dough scraper. Scrape half of the dough into each pan. Sprinkle the top with flour and pat it to the edges of the pans, or to about 1 ½ inches thick, if you are using a baking sheet. Add more flour if the dough sticks to your hands. Flour your fingertips and poke holes into the surface of the dough. Drizzle the top with olive oil. Set dough aside, uncovered, to rise for anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before you want to bake. Sprinkle the loaves lightly with salt and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Serve hot, with extra olive oil for dipping. Store any leftovers for a day or two at room temperature, in a plastic bag. The crust will soften, but it will re-crisp if you heat the bread in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Freeze for longer storage.

Download the recipe here.

Pasta with Olive Oil Marinated Tomatoes

 

 

Summer is drawing to a close here in St. Louis. Yesterday and last night we were downright chilly, which means garden tomato season is coming to an end. I welcome the cooler weather, but I will miss garden tomatoes. We still have a few weeks until our first frost date, and our tomato plants are going strong, so we don’t have to give them up yet.

Pasta with Olive Oil Marinated Tomatoes highlights the sweetness of the summer tomatoes, contrasting them with slightly bitter olive oil and the nuttiness of Parmesan cheese. We make it year-round, using hothouse cherry tomatoes in the winter, but summer tomatoes make it the dish it was meant to be.

Despite the name, this dish is just about as easy as it gets. It is our emergency dinner dish when we forgot to plan anything, or we really don’t feel like cooking and don’t have the energy or the inclination to go out. We eat it as a main dish, but it would also be a great side dish to go with fish or chicken. You can add dollops of pesto, small cubes of mozzarella cheese or even diced, cooked chicken or shrimp to make it your own.

One word of advice – since the ingredient list is so short and each component really stands out, this is the place to use the best Parmesan cheese you can. We buy big wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano at Sam’s, but you can also get tubs of shredded Parmesan or small wedges at the grocery store. Use what you can find, but at least skip the powder in the green can.

Pasta with Olive Oil Marinated Tomatoes
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 4-6

Use any pasta shape you like, from bowties to rotini to spaghetti. We like the nuttiness of whole wheat pasta, but regular pasta is good too.

2 medium tomatoes or two handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes (½ pound approximately)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
¾ pound dry pasta
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Start the water heating for the pasta. While the water comes to a boil, chop the tomatoes, or cut the cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on size. Place the tomatoes in a serving bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Serve hot pasta, topped with the tomato mixture. Add Parmesan cheese at the table. This reheats well, though it will be a slightly different dish, since the tomatoes will cook slightly when you heat it.

Download the recipe here.

Granola –From Trendy to Trendy

As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, with parents on the fringes of the back-to-earth movement, granola was familiar to me as a child. I had friends who had never heard of it and friends whose parents bordered on growing their own oats for it. Mom made our granola from Quaker Oats, honey from Dad’s beehives and quite a bit of oil. She made it in the crockpot and it cooked all day, giving off heavenly aromas of toasting oats and hot honey.

Now you can find granola in every grocery store, farmers market, health food store and big box store. It usually costs an arm and a leg, even if it is from one of the big cereal makers. At my usual grocery store it is in the health food aisle, the cereal aisle, next to the yogurt case and on a display by the ice cream. All of it is either outrageously high in fat for what is supposed to be a health foods, or it is “low-fat” and bulked up with puffed rice, extra sweeteners and who knows what else.

I haven’t made granola in forever, but I have been thinking about it for weeks, months really, since I bought a copy of Melissa Clark’s “In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.” In it she rhapsodizes about olive oil granola that she bought and then recreated. I did hesitate over the full ½ cup of olive oil she used. I looked up an old granola recipe from Cooking Light that I used to make all the time and decided that I didn’t want to go with the miniscule amount of oil it used either. I settled on ¼ cup of oil, and decided to use olive oil, which intrigues me as an ingredient in something sweet. I set out to use one or the other of the recipes I had, but I ended up coming up with my own.

I wanted to keep the focus on the olive oil, so I opted to use only honey for sweetener, and cinnamon and vanilla for other flavorings. I kept the add-ins to wheat germ for extra nutrition and sliced almonds and sunflower seeds for added crunch. I am not including dried fruit in this batch, to keep the oats as the star, but I might add a few raisins or dried cranberries to my bowl on days that I feel like it.

The aroma of the vanilla when it hit the hot honey was heavenly. The fragrance only intensified when the whole mixture started toasting in the oven. Once cool, the toasted oats dominated the flavor, with the olive oil adding a very subtle “something” to the mix. The granola is only slightly sweet, with overtones of the vanilla and cinnamon.

I am already thinking of enough variations for several batches – pecans or pistachios instead of almonds, more spices, or more vanilla and no spices, maple syrup instead of honey. What variations sound good to you?

Olive Oil Granola with Honey
from The Cook’s Life
Makes about 8 cups granola
Serving size, about ½ cup

This is a slightly sweet granola. Feel free to add a drizzle of honey on top of each serving if you want more sweetness.

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup wheat germ
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup honey
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Combine oats, almonds, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

Warm honey in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until thin.

Add olive oil and vanilla and mix well. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well.

Spread onto baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 10 minutes. Stir well, moving the toastier outside parts to the middle and spread in an even layer again. Bake another 10 minutes and stir again. Turn the oven off and return the granola to the still hot oven for another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and toasty, but not browned.

Remove granola from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet on a rack until room temperature. Store in an airtight container for a month, or in the freezer for longer storage. Serve as cereal with milk, over yogurt, or eat by the handful.

Download the recipe here.