oats n' notes

Food & lifestyle from the the granola factory bakery

Tag Archives: salad

Granola Croutons


by Suzanne Virgilio

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE salads. Salads are the opening number to a dinner that introduces the season to be celebrated. I suppose one reason salads are so popular is that it allows us to eat something delicious and nutritious. What could be better? When it comes to making salads, in my world, the crunchier the better! I’m a huge fan of croutons, nuts & smoky flavors; so I thought, why not develop a crouton that incorporates all my favor things? Not only delicious, but also good for you! I hope you enjoy this blog offering; even if your salad is your meal, you are eating well!

Savory & Sweet Granola Croutons

Oven 350

Bake 10-15 minutes, until golden

Makes about a dozen 2-inch croutons


  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Granola Factory Honey Pecan Granola
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a liquid measuring cup combine the olive oil, egg white & honey. Combine well with a fork. Set aside
  • In a medium bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Give the liquid mixture a good stir again and pour over the granola mixture. Use a rubber spatula to combine.
  • Line a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto the pan using an offset spatula. Spread to an even thickness (or thinness).
  • Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes until golden. Croutons will spread together and become one sheet.
  • Allow crouton to cool completely. Mixture will harden.
  • Once cooled break into crouton size pieces. Store in airtight zip lock until ready to use. Can be made 1 day in advance


When the air becomes crisp and the leave begin to change colors, I crave this delicious reflection of the season’s offerings. Combine your favorite greens and garnish with your favorite apple slices, dried cranberries & shaved Parmesan Reggiano. The following vinaigrette completes a perfect fall or winter salad.


Maple Vinaigrette

Makes approximately 1 cup

Store in refrigerator until serving

Allow to come to room temp. before serving


  • 1/4-cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp coarse grain Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic


  • Combine the first 5 ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or small jar.
  • Whisk mixture with a wire whisk or fork to combine.
  • Add 1 crushed clove of garlic and allow it to macerate in vinaigrette. Remove clove of garlic before serving


Quinoa Salad with Organic Honey Pecan Granola


by Dea Castrejon

When we decided to start this blog series, “30 Ways in 30 Days,” it was much easier to come up with sweet ideas/recipes for granola.  This was expected.  The savory dishes, or recipes that didn’t revolve around baking something (although there is nothing wrong with that!), were a little more difficult or imaginative.

Well, one day when I was browsing pinterest for recipes, I came across this simple and healthy quinoa salad that caught my eye.  I couldn’t imagine that some of our Organic Honey Pecan Variety wouldn’t add the perfect salty and sweet crunch to this salad.  Besides a few additions or substitutions, this salad is a replica from the great blog, iFOODreal.

Granola, Avocado, Blueberry, Toasted Pecan, and Quinoa salad

*makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa plus your additions

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups Organic Honey Pecan Granola

1 cup toasted pecans

3/4 cup blueberries

1 avocado

Honey Lime Basil Dressing

1 1/2 tablespoons basil, chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

To start, bring 2 cups of water to boil in a pot.  Add 1 cup of quinoa, and simmer until thoroughly cooked (about 15 minutes).  Pour cooked quinoa into a mixing bowl and allow to cool.





While waiting, let’s make the dressing.  In a small ramekin, combine all ingredients in no particular order and mix together.



Next, let’s preheat the oven to 350ºF to toast the pecans unless you prefer to buy them already roasted.  Place in oven for only 5-10 minutes or until they are slightly darkened.


Finally, wash blueberries and set aside.  Cut up your avocado and put aside, as well.



Once your quinoa has cooled, mix all your ingredients together in a bowl including the dressing.  How easy and delicious right?  Serve and enjoy!

IMG_2949 IMG_2950 IMG_2961


*Recipe obtained by http://ifoodreal.com/blueberry-avocado-and-toasted-pecans-quinoa-salad/.

Jicama, Grapefruit & Avocado Salad topped with Granola and Whipped Mascarpone



by Dea Castrejon 

Have you ever been thoroughly blown away by a new dish ordered at a restaurant?  As a foodie family, we are always trying new restaurants, waiting for those one-of-a-kind dishes to “wow” us.

Well, one of my favorite restaurant dish discoveries, to date, has been the Opaque Salad at the Pecan Grill in Lubbock, Texas.  This salad is so simple, so elegant, and it is constructed flawlessly!  Per the menu’s description: “Texas pink grapefruit, asian pear and avocado salad, constructed with whipped pecan praline mascarpone.”  Gosh, I love this salad, and it is so pretty!

Typically, when I find my favorite fares, I want to recreate them, so I can enjoy them whenever I want.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think my recreated recipe stands on par with the Opaque Salad served at the Pecan Grill.


Opaque Salad…the Granola Factory way

*Makes 1 salad

1 asian pear (substitute 1/2 jicama in the summertime), peeled and cubed

1/2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons mascarpone

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced

2 tablespoons Granola Factory Organic Honey Pecan

Okay, this is pretty straightforward.

Step One: peel fruit skin off of asian pear or jicama (jicama is used below).  Cut into sugar-cube like squares.  Set aside.


Step Two: repeat process with grapefruit.  Peel skin completely off.  Remove grapefruit from inner casing and section off into small pieces.

IMG_2437 IMG_2438






Step Three: Cut avocado in half. Thinly slice, and when ready to serve, use a spoon to carefully scoop out the slices.

Step Four: pour balsamic vinegar in a small frying pan and turn on stovetop to  medium/high heat.  Stir often until vinegar thickens (5-7 minutes).  Turn on low, and get ready to serve.


Step Five: Plate your dish.  I like putting the asian pear in the middle, sided by the avocado and grapefruit.  Top with a dollop of mascarpone, drizzle with balsamic reduction, and sprinkle with organic honey pecan granola. Enjoy!

IMG_2446 IMG_2448 IMG_2457 IMG_2469











This salad has become a staple in my household.  With only 6 ingredients,  this recipe is fresh, vibrant, and enticing.  These three fruits blend ideally: creamy notes of avocado, juicy bursts of grapefruit, and the slightly sweet and crisp texture of the asian pear/jicama.  On top of this (literally), the creamy, rich mascarpone, couples with the sweet zing of balsamic reduction, while the roasted pecans and speckled granola flakes enhances the all around complex flavor of this delightfully refreshing salad.  Ditch the oven on hot summer days, and enjoy this salad that is sure to please!


Meatballs Infused with Honey Pecan Granola



By Dea Castrejon

Frank Sinatra on pandora…check! Glass of red wine…check! Let’s get din din on!

This is my way of turning a “Case of the Mondays” into a surprise date night with my hunk of a husband. And, on account of granola, 30 ways in 30 days, I will be making classic spaghetti with marinara sauce. The twist??? Granola infused meatballs!

Before I jump into the recipes, I wanted to share with you why I have decided to experiment with a seemingly unusual mixture of meat and granola. Well, for starters, I am a baker at the Granola Factory, and a biased baker at that!  I love our granola, so I typically have it on hand in my pantry, unlike bread crumbs. Maybe your family is different, but we do not find ourselves using bread crumbs on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Additionally, as I compare the ingredients of bread crumbs and granola, I believe one could argue that granola is a more nutritionally sound option. It seems like the sodium content in most generic brands of bread crumbs is extremely high, and more than anything, it sort of scares me to think that a carton of bread crumbs possesses enough preservatives to maintain a shelf life of 2 years! Consequently, I am happy to use my 7 ingredient, real food, honey pecan granola as a legitimate alternative to bread crumbs in my meatballs. Am I pushing too hard? Regardless, let me tell you in advance, these granola infused meatballs are delicious, and they have not only been approved by my husband, but I have learned they have been enjoyed by his drooling coworkers around the lunch table, too!   So, without any more convincing, I am proud to share with y’all my pasta dinner, championed by these granola infused meatballs!

Alright, I suggest starting with your tomato sauce, especially if you are planning to do this from scratch (otherwise, a jar of your favorite marinara will be great!). For me, starting here allows enough time for my sauce to simmer and for all the wonderful flavors to mingle. Secondly, the aroma of sautéing onions in olive oil and fresh garlic…mmmm, simply amazing!

Tomato sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

15 oz can of diced tomatoes

3 oz of tomato paste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 cup dry red wine

8 ounces tomato sauce

salt and black pepper, to taste

Sauce Ingredients IMG_1944






So, as suggested, begin by heating olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Next, add your finely chopped garlic, and let flavors infuse for another minute, or so.

sauteed onions

By this time, the amazing smell I hinted at earlier should be consuming your kitchen! You can now added canned crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to simmer for 10 minutes. Chop up your fresh parsley and oregano and add it to the sauce. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Finally, add your tomato sauce, red wine, and salt and pepper. Let cook for nearly 20 minutes.

IMG_1958 prepared sauces

While the sauce is simmering for the final time, I begann putting together the star of tonight’s dinner, my meatballs. I have adapted a recipe from The Meatball Shop Cookbook, written by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow. Holzman and Chernow, restaurant owners to the highly esteemed Meatball Shop in New York City, is undoubtedly one of my favorite restaurants. These guys serve a simple, but excellent menu revolving around meatballs in a very unpretentious, communal atmosphere.   I have chosen to re-create their most popular, beef meatball for my pasta dinner (See recipe below with granola adaptation/ substitution included).

Beef Meatballs

*makes about 2 dozen 1 ½-inch meatballs

2 pound 80% lean ground beef

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 large egg

½ cup Granola Factory All Natural Honey Pecan granola (food processed)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoons dried oregano ( you may also use 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ground fennel

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9×13 baking pan and use your hands to coat entire surface. Next, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

IMG_1965 IMG_1974






Roll mixture into compact, round balls and pack them closely together in the baking dish.


Roast meatballs in the oven for nearly 20 minutes or until center of the meatball reaches 165ºF.   Drain any grease from the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 4 cups of your prepared tomato sauce over the meatballs and return pan to the oven for another 15 minutes.

IMG_1986 IMG_2001






As meatballs are roasting in the tomato sauce, I put together the final pieces to my homemade date night dinner. Boil a pot of salted water for your choice of pasta (I used a fancy filei pasta noodle from an awesome specialty store in the Little Italy neighborhood of Boston).




Prepare a side salad to complement your dish. My husband and I are loving arugula salads right now, so I tossed together arugula, marcona almonds, fresh blueberries, red onion, and thinly sliced peaches dressed with a traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture. Finally, I sliced up a freshly baked sourdough baguette that I bought from the market earlier in the day.

IMG_1987 IMG_2013 IMG_2053IMG_2047

Table is set.  Dinner is plated.  Sinatra is still singing. Now, there are two glasses of red wine and my husband is home! Enjoy!


Spanish Mixed Greens Salad With Toasted Almonds and Citrus Vinaigrette



Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 servings


  • Vinaigrette
    • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
    • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 2 teaspoons coarse grain mustard
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plush more for garnish
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained, rinsed well and drained again
  • 1/2 cup tasted almond slices
  • Arugula and Radicchio
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 2 ounces Manchego cheese, shaved


In a blender, combine the first eight vinaigrette ingredients until smooth. With the motor running slowly add the oil and blend until dressing is smooth.

Remove 6 of the romaine leaves and arrange on a platter. Chop the remaining leaves into bite-size pieces and put in a bowl with the chickpeas, arugula and radicchio. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the dressed salad over the whole leaves and scatter the almonds and parsley over top. Drizzle with more dressing before topping with Manchego and a sprinkling of paprika.

Recipe Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, (Clarkson Potter, 2013)