In this series, we spotlight the boundless potential of a single ingredient.
By Andrea Gentl
Chef: Andrea Gentl
Job Description: Photographer, home cook, and blogger.
Cooking Aesthetic in 3 Words: Maximalist, wild, beautiful.
Favorite Savory Ingredient: Capers
Favorite Sweet Ingredient: Jaggery
Food philosophy: I create simple, beautiful food for family and friends. It’s often built around a new ingredient I have found and squirreled away in my bag from foreign travels. My pantry is a bit of a Mary Poppins bag. I forage a lot of wild ingredients and flowers. My cooking philosophy is: be inspired by your surroundings and never stop searching for new ingredients and combinations. Be generous and inquisitive. I find talking to people and really seeing what they are eating and cooking to be so telling. Food is a great unifier and connector. The best way to get to know a culture is through their food. As a photographer, I often get access to go a little deeper and I never take that for granted.
Beauty Mantra: Simplicity. As I get older, I am more conscious of taking care of myself from the inside out. You are what you eat and what you ingest. It is as simple as that. Indulge in too much of anything and it shows as plain as day.
Maybe roses chose me. I have always loved and been drawn to roses of all kinds. When I was quite young, I lived in a house surrounded by an enormous and unruly patch of wild roses. They started to bloom in the early part of June just as summer began to crest. Summer to me is a hot June day when the air is wet with the smell of roses, hay and wild strawberries. My Grandmother’s name was Rose and on her birthday, my grandfather would give her two dozen long stem yellow roses. When I was 21 years old, I collaged the walls of my apartment with the pages of a fashion story set in an English rose garden. On a chaotic morning in Kolkata, I scour the market and buy armloads of roses to take back to my room to photograph. I watched them slowly transform and shrivel to a papery bloom, and they only grow more beautiful as they fade. As always, travel inspires both my cooking and my pantry. This granola is inspired by my travels to India and the color of wild fennel pollen on the northern California Coast.
Turmeric, Nut, Seed, Rose, Date, Wild Fennel Pollen Granola
5 cups organic rolled oats
1½ cup raw organic sunflower seeds
1 cup organic maple syrup
1 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
5 crushed cardamom pods
3 “happy” which in India means heaping teaspoons of ground organic turmeric (I like Diaspora single origin heirloom turmeric out of Oakland Ca. It sourced responsibly in India).
1 cup of raw cashews
1 cup raw pistachios (I like the super green ones or the pink pistachios, but any will do)
1 cup organic raw large coconut flakes
½ cup dried organic rose petals
1 cup seeded dates (approx. 6 large dates)
¼ teaspoon wild fennel pollen
¼ teaspoon bee pollen
¼ cup flax seed
¼ teaspoon cracked black
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set your oven to pre-heat to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine 5 cups organic rolled oats and 1 1/2 cup raw organic sunflower seeds.
Mix the sunflower seeds and the oats in a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, coconut oil, pink Himalayan salt, crushed cardamom pods, and ground organic turmeric. Scrape the maple, coconut oil, salt, and turmeric into the bowl with the oats and start to combine it with your hands. If you are afraid of turmeric stained hands, use two spoons to toss it together. Once it is combined, get in there and taste it to see if its both salty and sweet. It will mellow once it bakes and I often hit it with a little more salt and cracked pepper at the end.
Spread the combined oats, seeds, and spices on the parchment lined sheet pan and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Set a timer for 5-minute intervals. Give it a stir every 5 minutes. This will assure it doesn’t burn. When it is done, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool. While it is cooling, measure all your special bits: raw cashews, raw pistachios (You can coarsely chop the nuts, but I think it is prettier to leave them whole), organic raw large coconut flakes, dried organic rose petals, seeded dates, wild fennel pollen, bee pollen, flax seed, and cracked black pepper. De-pit the dates and slice them lengthwise. Pour the beautiful bits over the cooled granola and gently toss with your hands. I love getting right into the food with my hands. It is important to infuse a little love, connect with the food, and to feel the texture. Now is a good time to take that Instagram photo of this golden beauty. Hit it with another sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt and another turn of cracked black pepper. Let rest for half an hour and then jar. NOW GO SHARE THAT GRANOLA!