While perusing one of our favorite stands at the Hollywood Farmers' Market last weekend, we glanced at their collection of customer-submitted recipes for new ideas. A recipe for sunflower date cookies caught our attention; we scribbled down the ingredients, found all but one within the market, and made them as soon as we got home. Chilled rather than baked, they are easy and perfect for warm days when we'd like something sweet but don't want to use the oven.
These cookies are also free of refined sugar and gluten and we knew they'd be healthy, but we wondered whether dried fruit and nuts would be too heavy for summery weather. Quite the contrary; full of fresh raw sunflower seeds, juicy raisins, and fragrant mandarin peel, they tasted incredibly vibrant. They also reminded us of a tastier version of Lärabars.
Below is our adaptation of the recipe, followed by a list of the specific varieties of ingredients we used and the Hollywood Farmers' Market vendors where we bought them. Of course, one could find these ingredients elsewhere, and we recommend adapting the recipe to incorporate whatever looks, smells, and tastes the freshest and the best to you.
Sunflower Date Cookies
Makes about 20
2 cups raw sunflower seeds 1 cup dates, pitted 1 cup raisins 2 tablespoons almond butter* 2 tablespoons grated orange peel 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract almonds or blanched citrus zest (optional)
If using a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and place with the pod in a small saucepan with about 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until water is infused with vanilla, remove from heat, and remove the pod.
Soak raisins in the vanilla bean water or hot water with vanilla extract for about 15 minutes or until plump.
In a food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds and dates until combined. Add raisins, almond butter, and orange peel. Pulse until desired consistency is reached.
Form mixture into balls and flatten. If desired, top with almonds or blanched citrus zest. Refrigerate for about two hours.
*To make almond butter from scratch, process raw or roasted almonds (we used roasted) in a food processor until smooth, drizzling in a bit of extra virgin olive oil if more creaminess is desired.
Ingredients from the Hollywood Farmers' Market
raw sunflower seeds: Jazzy Sprouts (Ivar north of Selma)
Barhi dates: Dates by DaVall (Ivar north of Selma)
Flame raisins: K & K Farms (Ivar near Hollywood)
roasted almonds: Avila & Sons Farms (Ivar north of Selma)
Malibu Gold mandarins: Mud Creek Ranch (Ivar south of Selma)