Plant Based 411
By Nancy Eisman
Granola was originally created in the late 19th century at a health spa/sanitarium to function as a nutritious breakfast option. But it wasn’t until the counterculture movement of the 1960’s when this sweetened rolled oats and nuts baked until crisp concoction became a popular breakfast and snack. A few years later in the 70’s, Quaker Oats, Kellogg’s, and General Mills introduced their versions of this crunchy food stuff to the masses, and varieties of granola started appearing on supermarket shelves everywhere.
Rolled oats, nuts, and a sweetener are the basis for all granolas. Back in the day there were a few additional ingredients, like raisins and carob chips. Today’s granola can be embellished with any nut, dried fruit, grain, seed, candy, and/or flavor you can imagine, with the common denominator being some type of sweetening agent, like maple syrup, honey, or brown rice syrup. While I love making my own sweet granola, it occurred to me that a granola without sweetener, with savory add-ins instead, could be tasty too.
Googling savory granola brought up a few hits, many with an Asian flavor profile, and some ginger, curry, and other spices will definitely appear in a future version. My instinct today was to go in an Italian direction, with roasted garbanzo beans, pine nuts, hazelnuts, basil, oregano, fresh thyme, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar starring in this zesty recipe. Sun dried tomatoes replace the standard dried fruit, Minneola tangelo zest is tossed in for some balance, and nutritional yeast gives this granola a cheesy oomph, all conjuring up the flavors of a zesty pizza pie.
Not only is this savory granola a tasty snack for inside on the sofa or outside on the trail, it would be delicious used as a topping for salads, soups, and pastas. Layered in a small glass with some creamy nut cheese or plain, unsweetened plant-based yogurt drizzled with olive oil would make for a unique party parfait. Even if you’re not a tree-hugging nature enthusiast embracing an earthy, health conscious lifestyle, I think you should give savory granola a try.
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 ¾ tablespoons maple or agave syrup
1 package Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Garbanzo Beans
3 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons Melissa’s Red Quinoa
¾ cup Melissa’s Italian Pine Nuts
¾ cup hazelnuts
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (adds plant-based cheesy flavor)
2 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
2 ½ tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoons Melissa’s Rainbow Pepper Spice Grinder
1 cup Melissa’s Sun Dried Tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped
1 tablespoon Melissa’s Minneola Tangelo zest
¾ cup fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 375º.
Combine the oil, vinegar, and maple syrup in a bowl and whisk together.
Rinse, drain and blot dry the garbanzo beans. In a small bowl drizzle a tablespoon or so of the liquid mixture and toss to combine.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking oil spread out the garbanzo beans and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine the oats, red quinoa, pine nuts, hazelnuts, nutritional yeast, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic, powder, sea salt and fresh ground pepper in a bowl. Pour the remaining oil/vinegar/syrup over the mixture and stir until combined. If mixture appears too dry, whisk together additional liquid, add, and stir again.
Add the oats mixture to the pan with the garbanzo beans, arranging an even, thin layer.
Reduce oven temperature to 325º and bake for 20 minutes. Stir the mixture, rotate the pan, and mix in the chopped sun dried tomatoes. Bake another 15-20 minutes until mixture is browned and crunchy.
Remove from the oven, mix in the fresh thyme leaves and tangerine zest, and leave to cool at room temperature. Makes 6-8 servings.