It’s Recipe Redux time and the theme for this month – “Picnic Day is April 23, so get ready to eat al fresco. Show us the healthy recipes you like to bring on a picnic – or serve outside.”
Well, we are not exactly at outdoor picnic weather here in Illinois, but a girl can dream, right? I have been dying to make some lemon bars, so I knew these would be perfect for a picnic, if I had one.
I also bought a beautiful basil plant yesterday. I grew basil all winter long and decided to plant it outside too early. Apparently, we had not had our last frost as of a week ago and my precious basil didn’t make it. I just knew I had to add some green to the lemon. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me. I think it adds a little something.
So, how exactly did I lighten these up? Let’s start with the crust. Traditional crusts for lemon bars are more of a shortbread. I decided to make it a whole wheat crust with nuts. I also lessened the butter, but still left some in there to keep it together. The crust is 4 ingredients, that’s it.
For the lemon topping, I added the minimal amount of sugar to have just enough sweetness to balance the tart. I love a tart lemon bar, so I added a good amount of juice and also the zest. Embrace the tart, that’s what a lemon bar should be.
So, why are these perfect for a picnic? They travel well. After they cool in the fridge, they hold their shape very well. Toss them in a container and take them to go. These are the perfect refreshing treat to finish off a light picnic meal.
- ½ cup white whole wheat flour
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup softened butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 big leaves of basil, finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a food processor, add whole wheat flour, pecans, salt, and butter, and pulse until combined and the mixture is crumbly
- Spray a 8x8 pan with non stick spray and add flour mixture, press into the bottom of the pan
- Bake for 10 minutes
- Remove from oven and set aside
- In a small bowl, add sugar, lemon juice, zest, basil, eggs, flour and baking powder and whisk well until mixture starts to get frothy (about 3 minutes)
- Pour on top of crust and return to the oven for 20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean
- Cool completely or put in the refrigerator to chill before cutting
- Sprinkle with a small amount of powdered sugar, if desired