Musings: Pecans

Today’s topic is: “National Pecan Day. Do you have a recipe inspired by pecans?”

I suspect that most people think of pie when they think of pecans, but my favorite use of pecans is in my homemade granola. (And now that my oven is working again, I can bake a batch of this delicious goodness today!)

Homemade granola goodness

I originally got the recipe from my mom back in 2008 during a brief attempt to eat healthier. I made it once but then gave up. Then a few years ago, my husband requested it and now it has become a staple in our cupboard. I like eating it with milk (as in granola breakfast cereal) or without (as a slightly sweet finger food). He mixes it with plain yogurt and frozen berries for a crunchy afternoon (or bedtime) treat.

Here’s the incredibly simple recipe.

In your largest bowl, combine 12 cups of dry fixings. I usually start with 3 cups of old-fashioned oats.

oats

Then I add a combination of raw chopped pecans, sliced almonds, unsalted sunflower seeds, unsalted pepitas (for a nice splash of green color), walnuts (less than a cup because their flavor is pretty intense), and unsweetened flaked coconut.

seeds and nuts

The proportion of each depends on what I have in the pantry. My mom has added flax or chia seeds also, but I found they stuck to the sides or fell to the bottom of the box, so it didn’t seem worth the effort.

When all 12 cups are in the bowl, add 3/4 cup of sweetener and 3/4 cup oil. My mom’s recipe used agave nectar or honey but I have found that maple syrup isn’t as sticky and causes less clumping when it cools. For the oil, I’ve used everything from regular vegetable (canola) to sunflower to safflower oil (again, whatever I have on hand). The best was sunflower oil because it didn’t add any additional flavor to the mix (since there were already sunflower seeds included.) I tried it with olive oil once but the flavor was a bit too strong for my taste so I wouldn’t recommend that (unless it’s the only oil you have on hand, in which case, have at it!)

ready for oven

Mix it all together and pour it into a very large casserole dish. I use an 11″ x 15″ (5 qt.) Pyrex pan. If you don’t have a big enough dish, you can bake it in batches.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, give it a good stir with a rubber spatula to be sure it isn’t sticking and return it to the oven for 15 more minutes. Then, remove it again, stir it up one more time, and bake a final 15 minutes or until gently browned. (A total of 50 minutes of baking will make your whole kitchen smell sublime!)

Let it cool in the pan on a cooling rack, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan, and then transfer it to an airtight container.

 

Share your favorite pecan recipe in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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