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. 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 and Date and Olive Oil Wine Crackers 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:
Broccoli Salad with Almond and Chili Dressing features a unique dressing made from almond butter, ginger, dates and serrano peppers.
Baked Coconut Lentils 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 (made with a hint of chipotle powder)
And for breakfast, try these date-filled starters:
Banana-Cocoa Snack Cake (good for dessert, too!)
Here are a few more ideas:
Chop dates and add to salads – grains and leafy greens.
Make Raw Banana Ice Cream – 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.