Granola gained popularity during the health-food movement of the ’60s, then quietly retreated, and in the past few years has come back in fashion. Today you will find upscale bakeries and restaurants that sell personalized versions, each with their own mix of nuts, fruits and grains. These packaged versions are often pricey and, frankly, not as good as making your own.
When Passover comes, most grains are not allowed to be eaten. But my husband loves his granola in the morning. I started experimenting with matzo in place of the grains, and finally came up with this version.
Crisp, tiny pieces of crushed matzo are mixed with an array of nuts, cinnamon and sweet date syrup and baked till browned. Date syrup is one of the oldest sweeteners in the world. It is low on the glycemic index with a sweet flavor. The granola will be darker than usual. Once cooled, dried fruit and toasted coconut are mixed in and the whole dish is finally dusted with the remaining tablespoon of cinnamon. If you prefer a sweet granola, add a couple of extra tablespoons of honey.
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This homemade “granola” makes a great gift from your kitchen or a hostess gift if you are going to a seder. But it isn’t just for Passover. Get creative and add any combination of dried fruits and nuts you like, and serve it for breakfast anytime with yogurt or milk, sprinkle it over ice cream, or eat it as a tasty snack when hunger hits you.
Matzo “Granola” with Date Syrup and Cinnamon
Makes about 8 cups
Note: To toast the coconut flakes, add the flakes to a nonstick skillet on medium heat and toast the flakes until they become golden brown. Remove from the skillet and cool.
3 sheets unsalted matzo, crumbled into small pieces, about 1-inch pieces
1 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup date syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, combine the matzo pieces, pecans, almonds and pistachios. Drizzle with oil and toss well to coat evenly. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon over the mixture. Pour the date syrup and honey over the mixture and toss to coat evenly, using a large spoon.
2. Spread mixture evenly on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Don’t crowd the granola; make sure it is in one layer.
3. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, stir granola well and spread out again; return granola to oven and bake for 20 more minutes, stirring once, or until evenly browned.
4. Let granola cool completely. Mix in the cherries or cranberries, apricots and coconut flakes. Dust with remaining cinnamon and mix to combine. Break up any large pieces that may have stuck together.
5. To serve, pour granola into bowls and top with yogurt or milk. Or serve as is in a bowl for a delicious snack.
Advance preparation: Store granola in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)