So, as part of changing my eating habits, I’ve cut out a lot of refined sugar. I have a huge – like, Godzilla huge – sweet tooth, so it’s a challenge. However, my health and general feelings of well-being are greatly improved without all that sugar.
Still, I have had to find ways to cope with the sometimes overwhelming sugar cravings!
One way I do that is by eating dates – medjool dates, to be exact. I live in an area that has a sizable Arab population, and dates fit prominently in their food culture, so they’re easy to find. You can even find fresh dates at certain times of the year, usually around Ramadan. I have a source for incredible medjool dates, just a few blocks from my house. They are huge, sweet, and have a fantastic caramel-like texture, sort of chewy (especially if you put them in the refrigerator for a little while). I just love them. And they satisfy my sweet tooth.
These mondo dates are excellent for stuffing. It’s easy to extract the pit, and the hollow inside holds a good portion of whatever you want to put in it. I like to use a fresh cheese – either chevre or a fresh cow’s milk cheese – but bleu cheese could also be delicious.
In addition to stuffing the dates, I like to wrap them in prosciutto di parma. Natural bacon would also be good. Then I heat them up. Simply fantastic – sweet, salty, and smoky all at the same time. I must thank my friend Laura for teaching me how to prepare these.
They’re also rather filling, I find. They’d be great paired up with a simple green salad and glass of red wine.
Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Dates
If you can find proscuitto that is made from free range pigs, and not cured with nitrites but only with sea salt (as is necessary for some PDO/Protected Designation of Origin hams), that would be ideal. You could also wrap the dates in natural bacon as well. If you use bacon, only use half slices, and also use a well-soaked toothpick to hold it all together.
12 medjool dates
4 oz chevre or other fresh cheese
12 slices of prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Take your dates and pit them by slicing into the date lengthwise, then spreading open the date and removing the pit. They will look sort of butterflied at this point.
Stuff the dates with 1/2 tsp or so of cheese. Make sure the cheese is all the way in the cavity of the date. Close the halves of the date (some of the cheese may peek out a bit).
Roll up each date in a slice of prosciutto. Set the dates in a baking pan – one with edges, so that any fat won’t spill out and into your oven – and bake them until the meat crisps, about 20 minutes.
Serves 6 an appetizer, 2 as a meal.