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Holiday Gift Recipe: Orange, Pistachio and Date Granola

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Orange, Pistachio and Date Granola
Orange, Pistachio and Date Granola

Recently I walked through the farmers' market seeking some locally grown foods to incorporate into homemade granola — always a good holiday gift. We live in a pretty marvelous part of the world, for within minutes I had the makings of a "SoCal Pride Granola": oranges, pistachios, dates, olive oil, honey. Along with the toasty nuts and oats, the subtle bitterness of the olive oil and orange peel play wonderfully against the sweetness of the dates and honey, and a generous pinch of salt rounds out the flavors.

If you want to go the farmers' market route yourself, I recommend shopping at the Sunday Hollywood or Wednesday Santa Monica markets. (Or leave a comment if you have another farmers' market to suggest.) I'm also going to advise that you make two batches of this granola: one batch for gifts, and another one for yourself. Otherwise, you may wind up with a full belly, a baking sheet full of crumbs, and thwarted gift-giving plans ... I may or may not speak from experience.

Orange, Pistachio and Date Granola
Makes about 6 cups

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Finely grated zest of 1 large organic orange
1 cup coarsely chopped pistachio kernels (see Recipe Notes)
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped dates (see Recipe Notes)

Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together the oats and orange zest in a large bowl. Add raw pistachios (if using), salt, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger and stir to combine.

Stir together the olive oil, honey and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir this into the oat mixture, making sure the oats are thoroughly coated.

Spread the granola evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the granola is golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and stir in the dates and toasted pistachios (if using).

Cool the granola completely in the pan; it will crisp up as it cools.

Store in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Recipe Notes:
• Pistachios: You may use raw or roasted pistachios; raw nuts should be added before baking and roasted nuts should be added after baking.
• Dates: For granola I prefer using a firmer, drier date such as Deglet Noor; however, feel free to experiment with different varieties.

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