One of the first meals that Robert and I ever cooked together after I moved in with him was the “brussel leaf and baby spinach saute” from Sprouted Kitchen‘s first book. I had bought it shortly before the move, so we ended up cooking from it quite a bit in those first few months of living together, and it remains one of our favorites. We ate that salad in the “front room,” AKA the “front porch” (Robert always called it that by accident), or what is technically our living room. Or rather, we ate it in the room that BECAME our living room. Before it turned into the lovely space where we eat dinner, watch movies, host dinner parties and where I shoot my blog photos, it was a room with a pile of boxes Robert had never unpacked since moving in, along with a card table, two odd chairs and just a random sconce on the wall for lighting. But we ate this amazing salad in there that we had made together, and in addition to helping Robert realize that he loves brussels sprouts with a passion, this salad was also a sign that living together was going to work out just fine, and if nothing else we would surely eat well. We went from never eating brussels sprouts to eating them at least once a week during that first fall and winter of living together. The original Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook is important to us for reasons like that.
Robert doesn’t always get too excited about the multitude of cookbooks that cross my path, but he was extremely excited about Bowl + Spoon, the newest cookbook by Sara and Hugh Forte of Sprouted Kitchen. Our mail arrives downstairs in Robert’s office, so when he came upstairs the day it was delivered, he came running in our door saying “Guess what I found downstaaaaaiiiiirsss!!” He was as excited about it as I was. “Can we cook from this next week? What’s that on the cover? Can we make that? I want that.” Sara and Hugh should consider this very high praise.
As a book design nerd, I LOVE looking at the book. Hugh’s photography just makes me sigh. I’m still working on finding my “voice” with food photography, but I think ideally I would like to be a hybrid of him, Lindsey from Dolly and Oatmeal, Melissa from The Fauxmartha, and Kate from Cookie and Kate. Is that a tall order? Yes … but it can’t hurt to dream. Back when I started this blog, Robert was doing the photography for it. But even though he was taking the photos, I was kind of coaching him as an art director to get the look I wanted, while also letting his natural artistic eye shine through. (I talk about this subject and my process of taking over the photography in more detail during the interview I did for the ChoppedCon podcast.) But at the very beginning I remember showing Robert posts from Sprouted Kitchen and saying, “I want that.” Hugh Forte’s photos … *sigh* … They literally make me swoon.
The book has been a treat to read, to flip through and study the photos, and to cook from. We’ve made the seedy olive oil granola, the slivered veggie and soba salad with mapled tofu, the kale Caesar salad (which my friend recently made for a dinner party and one guest declared it the best salad he’s ever eaten), the seared scallops in Thai broth, and “the greeny bowl.” They have all been AMAZING. Sprouted Kitchen was one of the very first food blogs I became obsessed with, and Sara was one of the first people in the food world to help me realize that a “salad” could simply be a couple of fresh ingredients (not necessarily lettuce greens), perhaps along with some grains, tossed with a homemade vinaigrette – as opposed to your standard “house salad” with iceberg or romaine, cucumber, tomato, chopped carrots, etc. She helps me to think about food in a fresh way and I always learn something by cooking her recipes.
• The slivered veggie and soba salad with mapled tofu: Never in my life would I have made a sauce created almost entirely of fresh ginger and lime juice (two of my favorite things in the whole world), and it gave me more experience with cooking tofu, something I don’t do very often.
• The kale Caesar salad: Cornbread croutons? Oh HECK yeah. This took me out of my comfort zone as it was my first time working with anchovies, while teaching me that I can make a KILLER egg-free Caesar dressing and it’s totally easy.
• Seared scallops in Thai broth: Another first time for me: I had never cooked with lemongrass before. The Thai flavors are something that Robert and I love, but don’t often experiment with at home, so it was another learning experience.
• The greeny bowl: A perfect example of a perfect Sara Forte salad. It’s just a mess of green, but somehow that combination of ingredients absolutely sings when you put them together in a bowl.
These are life lessons. Sara’s recipes inspire me in the kitchen (while being quite healthy, which makes me feel even better about making them), teaching me how to work with new ingredients and helping me to discover new foods to love and play with. Hugh’s photos continue to inspire me as well, and they make me want to eat Sara’s food. They are a lucky pair, and I love how they’ve brought their talents together to bring us their beautiful blog, and now their cookbooks. (They’ve certainly been an inspiration to me, seeing as how my blog started out very similarly to theirs, with me – the “Sara,” quite literally – creating the content while my husband took the photos.)
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is an adaptation of the granola in the book. I love granola because it’s so easy to mess around with while not screwing it up. In fact, granola was the first food I started messing with as I practiced my skills in the kitchen. I used to be so afraid to change a recipe for fear of “breaking it,” and also I figured that a recipe was a certain way for a reason. (I now know that while there is a science to certain kinds of foods that you can’t really fool around with, I believe people should tweak a recipe until it suits their personal needs and preferences. So please feel free to adapt my recipes all you want!) Adapting granola recipes was like my way of taking baby steps before becoming a food blogger and coming up with my own recipes.
Over the past several years I’ve been making lots of variations of granola, trying new ones and adapting them as I go. My current go-to had been the one from The Yellow Table Cookbook (tweaked ever so slightly, of course). When I saw Sara’s granola in the book, I knew I had to give it a test run. I love the abundance of seeds in her recipe, and the addition of crispy rice cereal is just genius. Now the thought of making granola without the crispy cereal seems utterly ridiculous. Another genius tip from Sara: mix all of the wet ingredients into your big bowl first, then pour all of the dry stuff on top of it and THEN mix it around. Mind blown! How had I not figured this out before? I used to always mix my wet ingredients separately and then pour it over all of the dry ingredients. As it turns out, there’s no need for that extra bowl.
However, I missed the nuttiness and a bit of the flavor nuances from The Yellow Table’s granola, so the one I’m sharing with you today is my hybrid of their two recipes, creating my perfect granola recipe. It is approved by my two biggest granola fans, Robert and my mom. It seriously could not be easier. Just make sure you have one BIG bowl, because this makes a decent amount of granola and you want to have plenty of room to mix everything around in there.
Good news! I was sent two copies of this lovely book by mistake, which is perfect for you because it means I have one to give away. Just use the rafflecopter widget below to enter. The giveaway will remain open until Sunday July 26th at 11:59pm (EST), and then I will contact the winner. Trust me, this book is a keeper.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Full disclosure: I received my copies of the book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I’m happy to say that I love this book! Five stars from this cookbook lover.
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- a few pinches of cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, etc.
- ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups oats
- 2 cups crispy rice cereal
- 1 cup seeds (pepitas, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- 1 cup raw nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
- (optional) 2 tbsp each of flax seed meal, hemp seeds, etc.
- sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a very large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, light brown sugar, spices and vanilla until well combined.
- On top of that mixture, throw in the oats, crispy rice cereal, seeds, nuts, flax seed meal and hemp seeds. Stir it all together with a spatula until it is very well combined and the dry ingredients are well coated.
- Spread the mixture out onto your baking sheet. Sprinkle the top lightly with sea salt.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or so, until the mixture feels dry and is lightly browned.
- Let it cool completely before storing at room temperature in an airtight container.