With Dates, Opposites Attract

Medjool Dates are packed with goodness and energy! Of the hundreds of date varieties, the Medjool is the largest and is classified as a soft date because of its sweet, creamy flesh and high moisture content. But did you know that the sweetness of Medjool dates contrasts well with most savoury flavours?  This fresh fruit can be eaten as a delicious and healthy snack (of course) but they can also be:

  • used in baking
  • stuffed for quick and nutritious appetizers
  • blended in smoothies
  • added to savoury dishes for depth of flavour
  • used to top salads and cereal

Cooking Tips

  • Five to six Medjool dates yields ½ cup (125 mL) of chopped dates.
  • To make Medjools easier to slice or chop, place them in the freezer for about an hour.
  • Rinse Medjool dates in very cold water before putting them through a food processor—they will chop better, and cleanup will be easier!

For more information and recipes, please visit naturaldelights.ca.
Medjool_250x188

Here are two easy recipes that showcase how the unexpected sweetness of Medjool dates can add depth of flavour to so many savoury recipes.

 

Roasted-Tomato_250x188Roasted Date and Tomato Pasta

This heart healthy pasta is filled with delicious roasted dates and tomatoes for a new sauce idea for dinner. Roasting the fruit adds sweetness and texture but is also easy to prepare for a weeknight meal.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 cups (2 L) or 6 servings

1 cup (500 mL) pitted Natural Delights Medjool Dtes, quartered lengthwise
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tsp (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 box (375 g) whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced vegetable broth
¼ tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

In a bowl, toss together dates, tomatoes, oil, garlic, thyme and pepper. Spread in single layer onto small parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in preheated 400 F (200 C) oven for about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes start to split. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for about 10 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain well and return to pot.

In a skillet, bring vegetable broth, parsley and hot pepper flakes to boil. Add roasted dates and tomatoes and stir to combine. Pour over cooked pasta and toss well to combine.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Serrano-Ham_250x188Serrano Ham Wrapped Medjool Dates

These quick little appetizers are perfect to enjoy with drinks before dinner to get your guests ready to party. Look for Serrano ham in your grocer’s deli, pre-sliced or ask for thin slices at the deli counter.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 16

16 Natural Delights Medjool Dates
¼ cup (60 mL) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (60 mL) crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh basil
2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh oregano
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
8 slices Spanish Serrano ham

Using a small paring knife, cut a slit on top of the dates to remove the pit; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cream and feta cheeses, basil, oregano and pepper. Spoon about 1 tsp (5 mL) of the cheese mixture into each date.

Cut each slice of Serrano ham lengthwise into two pieces. Wrap each date with half of the ham and place on small baking sheet.

Bake in preheated 400 F (200 C) oven for about 5 minutes or until ham begins to become golden and cheese is melting slightly.

Makes 16 pieces.

Tip: For a more golden and crisp ham texture, simply place under the broiler, about 6 inches (15 cm) from top for about 1 minute.