When it comes to a good date, I look no further than my very own pantry. I’m talking about the short, dark, handsome…well…let’s just say “sweet” kind where one is never truly enough! Take for instance these Blue Cheese and Pecan-Stuffed Dates opens in a new tab. Could you eat just one? Not likely.They’ve been a staple food of the Indus Valley, Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Middle East for so many thousands of years (around 6,000) that nobody can say with certainty where they originated, but it’s likely around Iraq. Dishes like Lamb Tagine with Dates opens in a new tab and Date and Olive Oil Wine Crackers opens in a new tab are reminiscent of the creative ways dates have been used through the centuries.
Dates are the fruit of the female date palm tree, a “dioecious” plant, which means it can be either female or male. There are a number of varieties and colors of dates, ranging from bright red to brown and even bright yellow, but most of us are familiar with a couple of the brown varieties: the Deglet Noor and the Medjool.
Dates can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a meal. They add natural sweetness and good nutrition to breakfast, salads and main dishes, and of course to snacks, sweets and desserts. They are fabulous pitted and stuffed with all kinds of goodies — look for pitted ones to make it easy.
If you’ve not tried dates in savory recipes, you’ll be surprised and delighted with these:
Bacon Manchego Dates opens in a new tab and Prosciutto, Blue Cheese and Date Wraps opens in a new tab make delicious salty-sweet-savory appetizers.
Broccoli Salad with Almond and Chili Dressing opens in a new tab features a unique dressing made from almond butter, ginger, dates and serrano peppers.
Baked Coconut Lentils opens in a new tab make an aromatic vegan dish perfectly seasoned with Indian spices such as ginger and turmeric.
Remember, dates do the sweetening for you in many favorite desserts. Here’s a slew with no added sugar!
Rip’s Chocolate Treats opens in a new tab (made with a hint of chipotle powder)
And for breakfast, try these date-filled starters:
Here are a few more ideas:
Chop dates and add to salads – grains and leafy greens.
Make Raw Banana Ice Cream opens in a new tab – I love this frozen treat!
Mash dates into baked sweet potatoes. Try a little coconut sprinkled over the top.
Use chopped dates along with or in place of raisins. They can be used as a substitute for raisins and other dried fruits in many recipes.
Can you remember some of your most memorable dates? Got an idea or a recipe? I’d love to know.