Savory Sesame Nori Granola is a sweet, salty and umami-rich snack, as well as a great crunchy topping for soups and salads. I received a copy of Near and Far from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links have been used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
This is a bear with me and have faith recipe! Be willing to think outside the box! This savory sesame nori granola is sweet, but also salty and full of umami goodness. It is a fantastic snack, but it is also great as a sub for croutons anywhere you might like some crunch–like soups and salads. The minute I saw it in Heidi Swanson‘s Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel I knew I was making it. It was just enough outside of my wheelhouse to intrigue me–and I love challenging myself when it comes to new foods and recipes.
I have been sitting on Near and Far for a while now, but that is only because I wanted to make this recipe and so I needed to get to Jungle Jim’s. Don’t get me wrong, if you live in a city, the ingredients are not that tricky to come by, but if you live as I do, more rurally or in a small town, you may need to make a trip or look to mail order. Ironically, after waiting to go to Jungle Jim’s for the nori sheets, I then found toasted and seasoned nori snack packets in Costco and decided that would work just fine. Also ironically, the one thing I did not look for at Jungle Jim’s was shichimi togarashi (which I am sure would have been there), because I thought I had some. Oops. Nope. So I winged it (wung it? Why is it winging past tense just sounds wrong?). The moral being, the ingredients are not that exotic and I made things harder on myself than I needed to!
Anyway! The book itself! Is amazing. First, I love all of Heidi’s books–I already own and highly recommend Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking as well as Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen, so requesting Near and Far (we get some choices at Blogging for Books) was a no brainer! This one however is different from her previous two. The previous ones are a little lower production value (not an insult, more a comment on how beautiful her newer book is), paperback, and just awesome recipes from her kitchen, the only common theme being her preference for vegetarian, eco-friendly, all natural recipes.
Near and Far is quite different. It is hardback, with gorgeous color photography (all of her book have gorgeous color photos) and it is around 75% cookbook–with the other 25% being more travelogue. It feels much more personal than the first two. The recipes are first divided into three categories: “near” (San Francisco, where she lives), “en route” (speaks for itself) and “far”–in this case, five places she has spent extended time, Morocco, Japan, Italy, France and India. Ahhh, the long time readers say, now they really know why I was super excited for this book. Each section has interesting and unusual (in a good way, they are Heidi’s inspirations from in these places, not just regurgitations of local, traditional dishes) dishes that are respectful of the culinary traditions from which they came.
I am super excited for all of the “far” recipes–but I decided to go with the most unfamiliar first because that is just how I roll. I like to challenge us, and besides in the case of something I am super familiar with, like say Indian food, I did not want to find myself trying to adapt the recipes so much that they would be unrecognizable as Heidi’s creation. So Japan it was. First I am sharing this granola recipe, barely adapted, but soon I will be sharing an adapted salad recipe from the book that I chose to sprinkle with this granola–and we went crazy for it (and I will link to it once it is up).
Note: if you need to make your own shichimi togarashi, I used a majority of coarse aleppo pepper with a pinch of cayenne, mixed with some dried orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds and ground black pepper. Every Japanese cook’s shichimi togarashi is going to be different, so after doing some research I decided that hit the high notes for me and that it would work just fine. And it did. Go for 1 tablespoon of the aleppo pepper/cayenne pepper, and then divide the rest equally to reach 3 tablespoons–and you will have some leftover to play with!
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup sugar (Heidi and I both prefer natural cane sugar)
- 2 T water
- 3 1/2 cups (12.5 oz, 350 g) old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
- 2 T whole fennel seeds
- 1 t dried orange peel (sold with spices)
- 2 T white sesame seeds
- 2 T black sesame seeds
- 1 T shichimi togarashi (see notes above if you cannot find)
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz, 170 g) chopped cashews (she calls for raw but I just used roasted and it was fine)
- 5 8-inch square nori sheets or 10 of the toasted and seasoned smaller nori sheets, crumbled into pieces 1/2 - 1 inch square
- 1 1/2 t sea salt
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 1-2 T brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine the honey, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the beginnings of a boil, stirring. When the sugar is dissolved and the edges are bubbling, remove from the heat.
- in a large bowl, mix the oats, spices, orange peel, sesame seeds, shichimi togarashi, chopped cashews and crumbled nori. Mix thoroughly.
- Add the hot sugar mixture and stir again, until evenly moistened.
- Drizzle in the oil and mix again, stirring until the oil is evenly distributed.
- Spread the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet, getting it as even as possible.
- Bake the granola for 30-40 minutes; after the first 20 minutes, stir the granola and re-spread it out. Sprinkle with a few pinches of brown sugar.
- Repeat every 10 minutes until the granola is evenly browned. When you remove it from the oven, sprinkle it with brown sugar one last time.
- Let cool completely, during which time it will crisp completely.
- Store in an airtight container once cooled.
For an idea of how to serve the granola, check out this awesome Spiralized Sake Carrot Salad!:
And for the collage lovers….