I love Love LOVE granola, especially with lots of nuts in it. I think parfaits are one of the best meals known to man - especially with some good vanilla yogurt and fresh berries. Making your own granola is easy, and makes your house smell fantastic. It also stores well for several weeks, or you can freeze it in batches.
1/2 cup flaked coconut (I used the sweetened kind)
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup diced pecans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup (11 ounces) pure maple syrup* Don't use the fake corn syrup stuff, save that for pancakes.
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
2 cups (about 20 ounces) dried fruit** (I used cranberriesbut use a mixture of your choice)
In a very large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, and nuts. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour over the dry mixture in the bowl, stirring and tossing till everything is very well combined.
Spread granola on a couple of large lightly greased baking sheets; a half-sheet pan is ideal. Bake in a preheated 275°F oven for about 90 minutes, stirring the mixture with a heatproof spatula, spoonula, or turner every 15 minutes or so. You want to bring the granola at the edge in towards the middle, so it all browns evenly. And reverse the baking sheets in the oven (top to bottom, bottom to top) each time you stir.
When the granola is a light–to–medium golden brown, remove it from the oven and cool completely on the pans. Transfer the granola to a large bowl, and mix in the dried fruit. Store in a tightly closed container at room temperature for several weeks; freeze for extended storage. Or portion into pretty patterned plastic bags for gift-giving.
Yield: about 18 cups, about 4 1/4 pounds granola.
*Adapted from King Arthur Flour.