As you know from my last post, I have been on a big stone fruit kick. While reading about the origins and benefits of apricots I discovered that the kernel inside the pit of the apricot--the noyaux--has culinary benefits as well.
The noyaux is an almond-shaped kernel encased in the apricot pit. I saved my apricot pits after making these and stored them in a ziploc in the freezer so I can use them over the coming weeks and months. To get at the noyaux I used the flat side of a large cleaver, but a mortar and pestle would work, as would a hammer or a good size rock. It is from this small kernel--not the nut for which the two are named-- that amaretto and almond extract are made. You can steep the noyaux in cream for a sweet almond scent, or place it on top of halved apricots before baking or poaching them. I added mine to an almond granola to accentuate the nuttiness. Overall, I can't say that it added TONS of extra almond-ness, but every once in a while I would get a bite with a piece of noyaux and a piece of oven-toasted almond, and, let me tell you, it was almond to the nth degree.
The noyaux contains a nitriloside, (mimicked in a synthetic form it is referred to as B17) which is claimed to have anti-cancerous and fat-flushing properties. The little kernel also contains traces of cyanide, so you don't want to eat handfuls of them raw. Cooking the kernel will get rid of any cyanide traces. If you are nervous about it, enjoy the noyaux as we should most good things; in moderation.
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1.5 cups raw almonds, roughly chopped
4 noyaux, chopped
4 T raw virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup raw light agave or honey
1/4 cup chia seeds
pinch of salt
spices of choice (eg, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats,almonds, noyaux, salt, and any other desired spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, etc).
In a small saucepan heat the coconut oil and sweetener over low heat until the coconut oil melts. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. I usually taste a small bite at this point to check that the salt and spice levels are where I want them.
Pour the mix in an even layer onto a un greased cookie sheet. If you want to shorten the cooking time a bit you can split the batch between two trays.
Cook for fifteen minutes then stir. Cook another 30-45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes so the granola browns evenly. I like my granola to get pretty toasty and crunchy. This is definitely a personal preference. The granola is "done" whenever it is your desired level of toastiness.
Let the granola cool, then return it to the large mixing bowl. Stir in the apricots, chia seeds and any other raw nutritional boosters (hemp seed, flax seed, etc)
I like to eat my granola with fresh fruit and either goat yogurt or homemade almond milk. It is also delicious sprinkled on top of a simple salad of spinach or spicy greens tossed with vinaigrette.
Other ideas for oils, sweeteners, grains & add-ins
*olive oil & maple syrup with cayenne pepper for a warming, winter morning granola
*replace some or all of the oats with quinoa or amaranth flakes for a gluten free, high protein cereal
*add a splash of rosewater to the mix before baking
*use hemp seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or all of the above for added nutritional boost
*heat your milk or nut milk or coconut milk before pouring it over your granola
*grapefruit zest & thyme for a anti-oxidant and C packed granola