The King of Dates: Four Recipes

This image is no longer available

Cultivated in the Middle East over 6,000 years ago—and revered ever since by Nomadic tribes for their portable nutrition—Medjool dates are called the ‘king of dates’ because they are the largest of the hundreds of date varieties and were once reserved only for Moroccan royalty.

The fruit is known for its flavour, but also its healthy benefits. Medjool dates are fat and cholesterol free and a source of fibre, energy and magnesium.

Medjool Date and Nut Stuffed Chicken

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
¼ medium onion, finely diced
½ cup (125 mL) Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped (about 5 dates)
1 cup (250 mL) fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh herbs (your choice of parsley, sage, thyme, or rosemary)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
¼ cup (50 mL) dry white wine
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400F (200 C). Lightly grease a shallow baking dish.

In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in Medjool dates, breadcrumbs, nuts and herbs.

Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, cut a pocket into the thickest part of each chicken breast – being careful not to cut all the way through. Fill pockets with Medjool date mixture, season with salt and pepper and brush both sides with olive oil. Place in baking dish and add the wine.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown and chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

NEXT RECIPE: Medjool Date, Avocado, Kiwi Salsa on Sea Scallops

Medjool Date, Avocado, Kiwi Salsa on Sea Scallops
Serves 6

1 cup (250 mL) pitted and chopped Natural Delights Medjool Dates
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
3 kiwifruit, peeled and chopped
¼ cup (50 mL) finely chopped red onion
¼ cup (50 mL) finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 ½ lb (750 g) sea scallops (approximately 18 large scallops)
For garnish: Lemon curl and additional cilantro leaves (optional)

Combine Medjool Dates, avocado, kiwifruit, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapeno, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) salt and ⅛ teaspoon (0.5 mL) black pepper in a bowl.

Heat oil in a large frying pan set over medium high heat. Rinse and pat scallops dry with a paper towel, and sprinkle with remaining salt and paper. Sauté scallops for 2-3 minutes per side or until they are opaque and lightly browned.

Serve with salsa. Garnish with a lemon curl and cilantro leaves if desired.

NEXT RECIPE: Medjool Date Bread

Medjool Date Bread
This is a one-bowl recipe, and one of the easiest quick breads. It makes a wonderful hostess gift, and you can make several at once to freeze and keep on hand.

1 cup (250 mL) Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped (about 10 dates)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 ½ cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
½ cup (125 mL) walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch (2L) loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Place dates in a large bowl, sprinkle with baking soda and cover with water. Set aside to cool.

Add butter, egg, sugar, salt, vanilla and flour to cooled date mixture, beating well. Stir in walnuts and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for one hour or until tester inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean.

Let stand for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

NEXT RECIPE: Dreamy Date Pudding Cake

Dreamy Date Pudding Cake with Caramel Infusion
Serves 6 – 8

Butter and powdered cocoa, to prepare pan
1 cup (250g) Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped (about 10)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 ½ cups (375 mL) boiling water
½ cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar, packed
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups self-rising flour, sifted
Red glace cherries for garnish (optional)

Caramel sauce
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1 ¼ cups (300 mL) whipping cream
½ tsp (2 mL) vanilla extract
¼ cup (50 mL) butter

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). To prepare baking pan, brush the inside of a Bundt pan thoroughly with melted butter. Liberally sprinkle powdered cocoa over butter, then turn upside-down and tap to remove excess cocoa.

In a small bowl, sprinkle baking soda over dates. Add water and set aside for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a large metal spoon, fold in date mixture and flour until well mixed. Batter will be thin. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to stand for about one minute, then carefully turn onto a plate.

To make the caramel sauce, set a saucepan over medium heat and add sugar, cream, vanilla and butter. Cook, stirring often, until sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 more minutes.

While cake is still warm, use a wooden skewer to make holes all over the top of the cake. Pour half of the warm sauce over the warm cake. Garnish with glace cherries, if desired.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into slices and serve with remaining sauce.