Today, the whole-lemon train pulls into the snack station. It takes a minute to slice up the lemon and grate the ginger for these guys, but otherwise, they require absolutely no sweat. Your reward is a more complex lemon snack that includes tart pulp plus floral peel accented by bitter pith—all hugged in a chewy, mildly sweet blend of whole wheat and oats.
These bars are way more substantial than your average supermarket cereal bar, so they'll keep you satisfied for a good minute as a snack. And if you happen to have some vegan vanilla ice cream in the freezer, feel free to put a scoop atop a square for a fuss-free weeknight dessert.
Snack Oat Bars with Whole Lemon and Ginger
serves 9 generously
1 very large lemon (or 2 small), scrubbed
knob of fresh ginger, 1 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide, peeled
1/3 cup natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup turbinado
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
Trim one end off the lemon so you can see the pulp (discard pithy end). Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the lemon into paper-thin slices. It's far more important to get thin slices than it is to get whole slices, so concentrate on the paper-thin bit, and don't worry if you only get half-slices (or even less sometimes). Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Use a Microplane zester to grate ginger into mixing bowl. Add natural cane sugar to mixing bowl and gently toss until thoroughly mixed—this may take a minute, and don't worry if a lemon slice (or two) breaks. Set aside.
Heat oven to 350 with a rack placed in the center.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together oats, flour, nutmeg, and salt. Separately, whisk together applesauce and milk. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined.
Add a generous half of batter to a nonstick (or greased) 8"x8" pan. Press dough firmly and evenly into pan. Spread lemons evenly over dough. Pour any sugar and lemon juice in the bottom of the bowl over the lemon layer. Sprinkle remaining dough evenly in blobs atop lemons and press gently into a top layer (it should mostly cover the lemons, but you may have a spot or two of the lemon layer showing through).
Bake 37-40 minutes, until golden. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting.