These easy coconut, date and banana macaroons are perfect during Ramadan, the month-long celebration during which Muslims fast during the day. The fasting traditionally is broken by eating a date at sunset.

As for this simple lentil soup, traditional versions use dry lentils and take an hour or more to make. Canned lentils cut that time in half.

Almond Date Macaroons

Makes 12-15 cookies

• 1 banana
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) baking dates (or very moist dried dates, pits removed)
• 1 pkg (about 200 g/7 oz) sweetened coconut flakes
• 5 ml (1 tsp) almond extract
• 12 to 15 whole American or Marcona almonds

Heat oven to 190 C (375 F). Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together banana and dates. Add coconut flakes and almond extract, then mix well. Divide dough into 12 to 15 pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

Arrange balls on prepared baking sheet, then press 1 almond into top of each cookie. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom but still soft. Let cool before serving.

Lentil Soup With Lemon Zest
Makes 4 servings

• 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
• 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
• 3 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 5 ml (1 tsp) cumin
• 1 ml (1/4 tsp) smoked paprika
• 1 can (398 ml/14 oz) lentils, drained
• 550 ml (2 1/4 cups) chicken broth
• Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
• Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan over medium, heat oil. Add onion, tomatoes and garlic, then saute until onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add cumin and paprika, then cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add lentils and chicken broth, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.

Transfer soup to a blender, in batches if necessary, and puree until smooth. Return soup to saucepan, then stir in lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper, then return to a simmer. Ladle into serving bowls and drizzle olive oil over each serving.

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