INGREDIENTS
by Nigella Lawson

This is my new, improved breakfast bar recipe: gluten-free, dairy-free and enough seeds to make you start sprouting. I’ve used no sugar, but before you start thinking this is virtuously sugar-free (which I could claim it to be), remember that the sweetness that comes from the dates is, in essence, sugar, though certainly it’s unprocessed and full of fibre at the same time.

Make these bars at the weekend, and you’ll be set up for the week if you’re someone who needs to grab-and-go in the morning.

Brunch

Buyer's guide

As dates are harvested in late autumn and early winter, this is when the best selection is available in the shops and they’re more likely to be fresh. There are hundreds of varieties, but deglet noor from North Africa and the Middle East is the most plentiful. Medjool are large, deep-red coloured dates, usually from Jordan or California. They’re expensive but worth it for their delicious toffee-like taste. You can buy clusters of dates still on the stem or packaged in boxes – stoned or unstoned. Buy unstoned dates for the best flavour.

Storage

Fresh or dried, dates keep really well – for at least a few months in a cool, dark cupboard. They also freeze very well.

Preparation

Eat dates as a sweet snack, or chop them up and scatter them onto cereal in place of sugar or honey. Chopped up they can also be added to cakes, biscuits and desserts. They’re delicious served with cheese or as an after dinner treat, stuffed with a whole almond and rolled in icing sugar. North African cuisine makes varied use of dates, notably in tagines and sweet couscous dishes.