Crunchy and crumbly and buttery—could be a lot of things. Say, crackers. Or breadcrumbs. Or granola. The big difference, of course, is sweetness. Crackers and breadcrumbs are salty. Granola is sweet.
Or is it?
It was only a matter of time before granola was next. While you still need some sugar or syrupy something-something—otherwise the oats would never clump into clusters—there are a couple workarounds: 1) Lower the amount and add egg white, which acts as a binder. 2) Use a less, well, sweet sweetener. My favorite: mellow brown rice syrup.
After you’ve adjusted the sweetness, all that’s left to do is have fun. Yes, fun! Add all to taste: dry ingredients with the dry and wet with the wet. Bake until ultra-toasty, cool completely, then sprinkle onto salads and soups—or, my favorite, eat by the palmful as an afternoon snack. Here are some ideas to get started (and a recipe!):
- Increase the amount of salt!
- Instead of kosher, use a crunchy, flaky salt, such as Maldon.
- Stir soy sauce or miso into your wet ingredients.
- Add crushed snacks, like potato chips or pretzels.
- Freshly ground black (or white!) pepper: so much of it.
- Ground spices, like cayenne, mustard, chili powder, hot paprika, or gochugaru.
- Add your favorite hot sauce to the wet ingredients.
- Or a spicy condiment, from harissa to curry paste.
- Call in the other kind of spicy: seeds, like fennel or mustard; ground, like cumin or turmeric; or blends, like berbere or za’atar.
- Replace mellow canola with statement fats, like browned butter, olive oil, or sesame oil. Even lard or schmaltz!
- Shake on some Worcestershire. Lots.
- Get nutty and seedy. More is better here.
- Mince lil’ fishes, like anchovies, or cured meats, like pepperoni.
- Cheese! Low-moisture, hard ones, like parm or pecorino.
- Salt and Pepper: brown butter + maple syrup + flaky salt + all the black pepper
- Everything Bagel: olive oil + brown rice syrup + sunflower seeds + sesame seeds + poppy seeds + onion flakes + garlic flakes + coarse salt
- For Pasta, Forever Ago: olive oil + honey + walnuts + garlic + anchovies
- 1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing
- 4 cups oats
- 2 cups barely chopped raw cashews
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup poppy seeds
- 5 8- by 7-inch nori squares, chopped (scissors work best)
- 1 tablespoon orange peel granules
- 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 large egg white, whisked with a fork until frothy
What combo would you make? Share your ideas in the comments!