Perhaps it's because they look like large raisins, or they remind certain people of the prunes their Aunt Mildred would make, but dates are often a hard sell to many of my customers. Specifically one of my most popular hors d'oeuvres, Warm Medjool Dates stuffed with Marcona Almonds, Goat Cheese & Pickled Cherry Peppers, often gives people pause when perusing a draft menu. "I'm not big on dried fruit" or "are the peppers spicy?" are subtlese for "can I please have another option?". And I understand the aversion, as there are a lot of dry, mealy dates out there. However I went through the same issue several years ago in getting people to try fresh beets, so I often find myself saying "trust me, you'll love the dates". Especially if you use plump, moist medjool dates, not the nasty Turkish dates, and counter their rich sweetness with something creamy, spicy or smoky, usually soft cheese, piquante peppers or bacon (or all three!), I promise you'll be pleased with the results. And as they're a great bite sized appetizer that requires minimal prep time, dates are a perfect canape for the holidays when rich and filling food is the norm. So when the picky eaters in your family tell you at Thanksgiving how much they like your new hors d'oeuvre, thank them and tell them you can't wait for them to try your new beet salad!
Warm Medjool Dates with Goat Cheese, Marcona Almonds & Pickled Cherry Peppers
Hors d’Oeuvres for 10
Medjool Dates, Pitted/Halved 10-15
Brandy ½ Cup
Goat Cheese, Softened 8oz.
Whole Almonds, Marcona 10-15ea.
Pappadew Peppers, Quartered 6-8
Bread Crumbs, Preferably Homemade 1 Cup
Preheat oven 350d.. Soak pitted/halved dates in brandy 15 min. or so. Remove from liquid and stuff with almond and goat cheese. Top with piece of pappadew pepper and bread crumbs. Place on lined sheet pan and bake 10-15 min. or until toasted. Serve warm or at room temperature.