The best part of granola might just be the toasted sticky bits when it comes out warm and fragrant from the oven. Add ripe neglected bananas and maple syrup, and this might be your new morning addiction.
Mixed with coconut and pecans and a generous amount of cinnamon, the beauty of granola is its versatility — switch out the pecans for walnuts or salted Marconas; perhaps add golden raisins or tart dried cranberries.
Because there’s extra moisture from the bananas, make sure to stir every four to five minutes; this helps release steam and allows the granola to bake and brown evenly. Since ovens are vastly different, keep an eye on it as it bakes and adjust the oven temperature as needed.
If you prefer a sweeter granola, up the maple syrup or add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar. Honey, although tempting, tends to burn so be extra careful as its baking.
Enjoy with yogurt or milk. Stir into pancake batter or add crunch to a banana split. Make it a little more savory or spicy to perk up salads and roasted vegetables. Allow the granola to dry completely in the pan before storing at room temp, or in the freezer for up to six months.
Banana-Maple Nut Granola
Makes about 8 cups
3 very ripe medium-sized bananas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or Alaska birch syrup
3 1/2 cups (gluten-free) rolled oats
1 1/2 cups large, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup pecans, Marcona almonds, or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add bananas, maple syrup, and olive oil to a food processor or blender; blend to combine. In a large bowl, toss together oats, coconut flakes, pecans, pumpkin seeds, salt, and cinnamon; stir to blend. Add banana mixture to dry oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread mixture out in a single layer on baking sheet, pressing down firmly with back of spatula to make sure mixture is compact.
Bake granola 18 to 20 minutes, and until mixture just begins to brown. Remove baking sheet from oven and stir granola well, breaking it up into chunks, if needed. Bake another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes to help release steam so the granola can begin to toast and brown. Keep in mind the bananas give extra moisture, so baking time will vary. The granola is ready when dry and golden with crispy bits. Be careful not to overcook or it might become bitter. Remove pan from oven and let granola cool in pan completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.