Looking for a good chewy no-bake granola bar recipe? Iron Chef Michael Symon’s got you covered with this one from his quick and easy cookbook, Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners.
Iron Chef Michael Symon is one of the cohosts on ABC TV’s The Chew. He radiates an aura of the amiable guy next door. He’s the fellow from Ohio who loves football. His tone on Twitter and on TV is friendly. You might almost forget he’s a savvy restaurateur. However, Chef Symon is the owner of The Roast in Detroit, Michigan. He is also responsible for revitalizing the Cleveland restaurant scene. Lola, Lolita and The B Spot are his three hotspots in Ohio. (A self-proclaimed “meat-centric” cook, The B Spot highlights his love for hamburgers.)
In the foreword to Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners, the chef speaks with gratitude for all the people he’s inspired to cook at home. Even as a restaurateur, his honoring of family – of Sunday supper around the table – is evident. He’s been quoted as saying: “Every lesson I learned as a kid was at the dinner table. Being Greek, Sicilian and Ruthenian – we are an emotional bunch. It is where we laughed, cried and yelled – but most importantly, where we bonded and connected.” “My restaurants are never opened on Thanksgiving; I want my staff to spend time with their family if they can. My feeling is, if I can’t figure out how to make money the rest of the year so that my workers can enjoy the holidays, then I don’t deserve to be an owner.”
So in true Symon fashion, the Iron Chef has poured his love of family and good food into nearly 250 pages of recipes in 5 in 5. The recipes are definitely do-able! Appetizing pictures grace the cookbook. (About every third page has a glossy picture perfect for Pinterest.) The home-cooked meals made with fresh produce are fashioned to allow for family time. While the ingredients are few, taste is never sacrificed.
In the introduction to 5 in 5, he urges readers to support local farmers. (He also includes a list of necessary staples for the pantry.) The cookbook is organized in sections relating to the fruits and vegetables of the seasons. The springtime and summer chapters feature lighter fare such as Asparagus with Sesame & Orange and Tofu Stir Fry. Comfort recipes like Kielbasa with Apples & Onions and Cheesy Broccoli Gratin ward off winter and autumn chills.
My admiration for Chef Symon increased as I flipped through 5 in 5. Tokyo, Japan is my hometown, where everything from the flower arrangement to the food on the plate respects the time of year. Chef Symon clearly shares the same ideals.
There is also a holiday goodies section in 5 in 5 where I stumbled upon Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars. The protein-packed bars are divine whether made with peanut butter or almond butter. Next time, I may even introduce sunflower or cashew butter to the prescribed oats and honey. (The original recipe calls for a half cup but I used a whole cup of nut butter.) If you are a fan of oatmeal and peanut butter cookies, Michael Symon’s chewy no-bake granola bars are combo of both… and are sure to make you smile!
- 1 generous cup or 265g pitted dates
- 1 cup or 150g almonds, chopped
- 1¼ cups or 125g old-fashioned style uncooked oats
- ¼ cup or 40g craisins
- Pinch of salt
- 1 generous cup or 280g peanut butter or almond butter
- ½ cup or 120ml honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Nestle wax paper into an 8-inch square pan.
- Pulse the dates in a food processor until a ball forms. (The dried fruits help to glue and bind the other ingredients.) Remove the dates from the processor and into a large bowl.
- Pour the nuts into the food processor and pulse. Or chop the almonds by hand.
- Add the nuts, the oats, craisins and salt to the dates. Mix well.
- Microwave the peanut or almond butter with the honey for 45 seconds on high power. Stir. If still not completely melted, microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir again.
- Whisk in the vanilla. Drizzle over the dates/oats mixture. Combine well with a sturdy spoon or your clean hands.
- Press the mixture firmly into the pan. Freeze for 10 minutes. Cut into squares.
If you want to ask the Iron Chef directly for tips on tweaking your favorite recipe in 5 in 5, I suggest you get tweeting. The Emmy award-winning cohost of The Chew generously answers a multitude of questions. Chef Michael Symon is active @chefsymon. Caution: The lovable chef is “Cleveland proud, an awful speller and will bite back.” Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 cookbook is available for purchase online and through brick and mortar booksellers everywhere.