Saturday, November 21, 2009

Date Night!

After sampling this sweet and salty appetizer in a restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska, these stuffed dates become a crowd favorite! While I have seen several variations: dates stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon or dates stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon, I prefer stuffing the dates with mascarpone, tucking in a marcona almond and wrapping it in prosciutto.

It's really easy. Start with Medjool dates if you can find them, and remove the pits by cutting a slit. If you can't find Medjool dates, you can use other dates as well. I just have to say that this recipe made me a date convert. Dates are delicious!!! They are nature's candy and so very good.

So, after the dates are pitted and slitted, used a spoon and put a little bit of mascapone inside. Now if you like a bit of crunch, you can tuck in a Marcona almond. This isn't an ordinary almond, instead it is from Spain and has a rounder shape and it doesn't have the brown outer coating. It is traditionally toasted in oil and salted. I buy mine at Trader Joe's as they are fairly expensive. Now the almond can confuse some people who might think it is a pit, so be sure to let them know it's there.

After stuffing, cut your prosciutto into generous strips and roll it around the stuffed dates. You can also use a toothpick to secure the prosciutto if you need it.

Turn the oven onto broil, and place the wrapped and stuffed dates on a cookie sheet with foil. Broil them for a few minutes until the prosciutto is visibly crispy.

Let them cool a few minutes before serving as the cheese may be molten hot. And there you have it, a simple appetizer to make yet having complex flavor. The crispy, salty prosciutto is a wonderful pairing with the soft, sweet date and creamy cheese. I also love the crunch of the almond!