Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dueling Dates

It's always nice to have options, especially when it comes to dates. I can't help you with your love life if that's what you were hoping for (and I'm not going to reveal any juicy scoop on mine, sorry). But I can share two very good dueling stuffed date (as in the medjool kind) recipes.

Tonight was Western Mediterranean Class. We made Moroccan cous cous, harissa spiced carrots and homemade pita, among other phenomenal recipes. It was my favorite class so far. If I could only cook one cuisine, this would be it. For dessert, there was mint tea and a sweet version of stuffed dates with yogurt, mint and orange zest. When I entertain a signature appetizer of mine is a savory version of a similar recipe -- I call them "Date Bon Bons." Here are the recipes for both!

Date Recipe #1: Savory Date Bon Bons

This appetizer is an easy single bite that artfully combines the intense sweetness of the date and saltiness of the prosciutto. The goat cheese adds a creaminess and the basil heightens all the flavors. Using basil struck me as weird before I tried it, but believe me it's a key ingredient. And if you want to make them vegetarian, use the basil without the prosciutto as the wrap. These are extremely simple and can be prepped ahead, then broiled at the last minute.


1/3 cup soft herbed goat cheese
16 Medjool dates, pitted
16 large basil leaves
4 wide, thin slices prosciutto di Parma, each cut into 4 long strips
16 toothpicks, soaked in water 10 minutes


1 Heat broiler to low.
2 Spoon 1 teaspoon cheese into each date; wrap with a basil leaf, then a prosciutto strip. Secure with a toothpick.
3 Broil until cheese bubbles, about 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 187 calories per 2 dates, 3 g fat (1.9 g saturated), 36 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, 6 g protein

Source: Self Magazine, December 2007

Date Recipe #2: Sweet Lebneh Stuffed Dates


24 medjool dates, split on the top and pit removed
1 cup yogurt cheese (Lebneh), make the night before (or skip this step and buy at TJs)
1 orange, zested
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
½ cup almonds, toasted and chopped


1 To make the yogurt cheese (make the night before), line a fine mesh strainer with a thin linen towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Set over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the prepared strainer and then gather the edges of the towel together so that the yogurt is covered. Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight to drain, or for a few days for an even thicker cheese. Or as a short cut, Trader Joes also sells Lebneh.
2 Place the pitted dates on a flat surface. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt cheese, orange zest, vanilla, and mint. Fill each date with some of the mixture. It is easiest to pipe the yogurt mixture into the dates with a pastry bag. Sprinkle the dates with the almonds and serve.

Servings: 12
Author: Jennifer Miller, Natural Chef Instructor/Culinary Administrator

1 comment:

  1. Yum yum. I know the ones in class were great but yours soud really good too. Not sure who would win this duel!