Beach House Staples - Granola, Marinated Olives, Pesto, Tuna Escabeche

Some of the dishes made in advance for our beach house vacation:

Granola - Inspired by a recipe shared by the Oriental Mandarin hotel group. I first made this granola on Mother's Day 2010. the proportion of dried fruit, and use of a high quality variety of nuts are the secrets to success. Recipe below.

Marinated Olives - The recipe can be found in printer friendly format here on or to browse the recipe on the Be A Better Cook blog, link here.

Pesto - Our garden was already overgrowing with Basil before we left, and now it's even more jungle-like. I think I'll be making a commercial quantity of pesto later this month. Recipe below.

Tuna Escabeche - This was almost an afterthought for the happy hour spread - but so popular I had to make it a second time during the week. The recipe come from Rick Bayless and can be found here. However, it's so simple - here's what you do, in summary:
  1. Cut an onion into 1/4" slices and cook in olive oil for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain two cans tuna (preferably packed in oil), and break apart.
  3. From a 12 ounce can of pickled jalapenos, which includes carrots and onion, reserve liquid and remove 2-3 jalapenos and all the vegetables.
  4. Remove the seeds and chop the jalapenos and vegetables. Add to the tuna. Add cooked onion. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid.
  5. Serve with small tortillas, chips or crackers.

Homemade Fruity Granola

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon'
     --- melt butter, sugar and spices.

1 pound dried uncooked whole cut oats (plain ole' Quaker Oats in the cardboard cylinder are just fine)
2.5 cups mixed nuts - use a high quality mix and be sure to include cashews, almonds and a larger nut like brazil or macadamia
     --- Combine nuts and oats. Add sugar/butter mixture and toss to coat evenly.
     --- Spread mixture onto two rimmed sheet pans (lined with foil).
     --- Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook and brown. Turn pans if needed.

1/2 cup dried currents
1/2 cup sour cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried mango (cut into small cubes)
1 to 2 teaspoons salt - taste.
     --- Combine fruits with oats
     --- Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag for up to two-three weeks.

Note: Of course you  can substitute different dried fruits - but I strongly recommend including mango and the sour cherries or cranberry. Great combination.

Tom's Pesto

I'll never forget the night I made fresh pesto for the first time. I was so excited by the intense and (to me) unique flavor, that I wrote raving enthusiastic notes in the cookbook from which I got the recipe.

4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons kosher salt
generous grinding of fresh black pepper - about 1 teaspoon
     --- Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
     --- Scrape down sides several times to create a consistent cut
     --- For storage, coat a plastic freezer bag with olive oil, then fill with pesto and press out all air.

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