Escabeche + Savory Granola (+ Las Manas Tamales)

Sometimes a recipe stops you in your tracks.

A few weeks ago Bryan and I attended a dinner party for my friend Amber’s new business, Las Manas Tamales (more on that in a minute). The first course was described as a spring vegetable escabeche with savory granola. I didn’t really know what to expect and certainly had no idea I would be so moved by the dish.

Maybe I should start by saying that both Bryan and I love vinegar. Love it. Pickles of all kinds (except Bryan hates bread & butter—too sweet) would be in both of our top 5 favorite foods.

So, you can imagine our delight when a plate of pickled asparagus, beets and carrots topped with a mess of puffed millet, seeds and spices arrived at our table. After our first bites, we both nodded in agreement. This is so good. A few bites into it and we were saying it out loud after every bite. This is so good. Bryan even did the little neck thing he does when he really likes what he is eating.

The vegetables were sharp, intensely flavored and very vinegary. The granola is toasted, salty, sweet, and umami. Together, they were one of the best things I have ever eaten.

I know, I know, there I go with dramatic proclamations again— but I really mean it!

Fast forward to the end of the meal, when I first started begging Amber for the recipe. She is a reasonable woman, and happily agreed to share it with me—and all of you. Last weekend I made this at home for the first time and fell in love all over again. Seriously good food, people. Amber adapted the granola from a recipe that appeared in Saveur. I haven’t tried the original, but I can’t imagine it being better than this adaptation.

So, now that you know Amber is such a talented cook, you might be wondering about those tamales. If you are in Chicago, you can stop wondering and go get some. Amber is going to be selling her wonderful homemade tamales at Green City Market all summer! I am so excited to see GCM mix it up a little in terms of the types of prepared foods that are for sale. Tamale flavors might include delicious combinations like: Mint Creek bacon, Green Acres chives, and butterkase cheese; braised Heartland beef brisket, charred Werp ramps, Nordic Creamery jalapeno cheese and Seedling sungold tomato jam; or Prairie Fruits Farm goat cheese, Green Acres sorrel, and River Valley crimini mushrooms. That is some amazing local flavor! Like everyone at Green City, she’ll be using local, sustainably raised produce and meats in all of the tamales.

So, stop by Las Manas Tamales on Saturday and welcome Amber to the market. Try some tamales, and tell her you can’t wait to make her escabeche with savory granola. (Thanks, Amber, for sharing this recipe with all of us!)

A couple of notes on the recipe:

I know puffed millet is hard to find. But I believe in you. You can do it. (If that fails, I found it here.)

The vegetables are super acidic. If you want to tame these beasts, simple replace some of the vinegar with water (try 2 cups vinegar and 2 cups water). I would never do such a thing, but I know not everyone loves vinegar as much as I do.

Keep in mind, the pickles need to sit in your fridge overnight, so make these the day before you want to eat them. They’ll keep in the fridge for at least a week.

Go crazy! Both of these recipes can be taken in so many different directions. The possibilities are endless. Have fun.

Savory granola is the food of the future!

Savory Granola

  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups puffed millet
  • 1 cup raw pepitas
  • 1/4 cup grated manchego
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • salt to taste

Fry the cilantro in sunflower oil until crisp (about 10 seconds, make sure the cilantro is dry to avoid splashing) and allow to cool/drain on paper towels. Save leftover oil for another use (Amber uses it for dressing). Mix the cilantro with the millet, pepitas, manchego, sesame seeds, chile powder, cumin, and garlic. Toss with the agave nectar. Season to taste with salt (I ended up using about a teaspoon).

Spread on a sheet pan, lined with a silpat or parchment, and bake at 250°F until toasted, 35-40 minutes.


  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 8 jalapenos (halved)
  • 8 scallions (white and light greens parts)
  • 8 cups of vegetables (cut into desired size and shape), I used carrots, jicima, and asparagus
  • 1 head of garlic (broken into cloves, no need to peel)
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 3/4 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oil in a large dutch oven, then add the jalapenos, scallions, garlic and the vegetables (except for asparagus, add asparagus for about a minute before adding the vinegar, etc.).  Saute for about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, water, salt, herbs, and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower and simmer until vegetables are al dente. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

22 comments to “Escabeche + Savory Granola (+ Las Manas Tamales)”

  1. Such an eye-catching dish! Simple at first glance but with so many layers of complexity in the wonderful flavours… love it.

  2. Amber of LMT says:

    May 5th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thanks Tim! I love what you wrote. And my mouth is watering for the escabeche right now.

  3. What a brilliant dish – that takes some creativity!

  4. What a creative dish! I can’t get enough pickles lately, but have never tried making them myself. Also, I know puffed millet can be made at home if you can’t find it in a store.

  5. I just stumbled upon your blog and am excited to hear about those tamales; I’m frequently at Green City so I will have to check them out and agree that I am glad to hear that there will be new fun prepared foods to check out. I usually try to stick to raw ingredients for cooking with at home but inevitably, I get hungry while there and a breakfast sandwich or crepe hits the spot.

    And a savory granola. That is the most fantastic thought I’ve ever heard of! It’s one of thos things I wish I had created myself and it sounds fantastic for sprinkling over any kind of vegetables for that added touch.

  6. This dish looks/sounds amazing. Can’t wait to try a tamale at the (now) outdoor GCM!

  7. Savoury granola, I die.

    What an amazing idea, and the execution looks fantastic too! This is gonna be an appetiser for whomever comes to dinner next!

  8. I am all about the dramatic proclamations! And pickles & that savory granola & most especially tamales! Can’t wait to try them at GCM. I need to stop by for some rhubarb anyways ;)

  9. Sandra Holl says:

    May 5th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Can’t wait to try Amber’s tamales on Saturday. Love the post!!

  10. This is what I called an inspiring recipe. I am not that into vinegar but I can see this working in so many directions. I’m going to try it over the weekend. Thanks for sharing it!

  11. So excited to try this! My house is full of vinegar freaks, so I’m sure that we’ll all adore it. Also, I’m so into all of the seeds and millet recipes that have been popping up lately–really creative and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oddly enough, I have a pretty large bag of puffed millet in my pantry begging to be used in something unique and fantastic like this sounds. I was about to resort to alterna-rice krisipie treats. You saved me!

  13. haha–the last line cracked me up, Tim. :)

  14. Sounds really delicious. Also a great idea to sell the dishes at a flea market. Very innovative. :-)

  15. Savory granola, I am in love! I’m also a sucker for anything vinegary, especially spicy pickles. What an awesome dish.

  16. Great idea!! Really unique flavour combo.

    Can’t wait to try this.

  17. I am really digging this savory granola! I love the preparation here, but now I am racking my brain with how else one could usea big batch of this.

    My first thought is almost as an alterna-crouton on an arugula salad, or swap out the cilantro for basil and sprinkle it over tomato-basil salad….will you be using this granola for any other dishes?

    amaing pics as always :) I covet your photog skills!

  18. Hello!!! I’m dying to try this. My boyfriend and I are always making escabeche, the really spicy kind!!! I liked you to my blog, because I think it’s so beautiful. I am making your favorite cookies for my friends at work! They are shorbread lovers. Thanks for posting your awesome recipes!

  19. so interesting! I also LOVE vinegar. I used to drink it from a bowl of cucumbers before dinner as a kid. weird.

    i’m sad that i won’t get to try the tamales now that I’ve left Chicago for San Francisco! of course, you can’t go wrong with food here either, though, so i guess it’s still a win for me :).

  20. Brilliant combo. I’ve been seeing savoury granola all over the place these days (and just last night at a great restaurant in Vancouver) and aboard the train a couple days ago we had puffed wild rice on our salads. I asked, and the chef instructed to simply microwave dry wild rice in a bowl covered with parchment. I wonder if the same would work with millet?

  21. This dish is terrific. I made some over the weekend using asparagus, carrots, and cauliflower. Per the original recipe, I used puffed rice in the savory granola, but I’ll get puffed millet asap. I want to use some sugar peas in my next batch. Thanks for the inspiration.

  22. I cannot wait to try this! I’m pretty sure every food would taste better doused in vinegar. And pickled jicama might have to start replacing the pickled green beans in my favorite bloody mary recipe…

What do you think?