Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8 by 2-inch pan, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Add butter, and blend with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Transfer 2/3 of the dough into prepared pan, and press into bottom and up sides. Spread date paste over bottom layer of the dough. Cover with remaining dough.
Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert on to a plate, then back onto a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
Place dates in small saucepan with 1 cup of water, lemon zest, juice and salt. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, cool completely before using.
Yield: 2 cups
(c)2002 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved