Sweet and salty — Who doesn’t like that combination?
I’m always looking for new tapas recipes or quick bites of food that will be easy to make yet very tasty to the palate. This would be a great little Thanksgiving appetizer to tease everyone’s taste buds before sitting down to your fantastic Thanksgiving dinner.
I love eating tapas. What is a tapas you say? Well, it isn’t a particular kind of food. Anything can be a tapas as long as it is a small serving of just about anything served with a drink. While in Spain last year we had Pork in Whiskey Sauce which could have been a meal but it was served as a very small course with our drinks — so tapas. Or, like some cheese and breads served with a little paté — tapas. A tapas is just a small dish of a snack, appetizer or food.
I think I first had bacon wrapped dates at Mercat, a tapas restaurant, in Chicago. We ordered several tapas that night and what I remember about their dates is that they bought them out on a long skinny white tray. They also bought out a tiny little white porcelain pitcher that had my interest; now what was in that pitcher and what were they going to do with it’s contents. As it turned out, it was full of the smoothest, cheesiest Stilton sauce I have tasted and they proceeded to pour the sauce over the plate of dates.
This tapas was so wonderful, the sweetest of dates pared with the almond and blue cheese that it was stuffed with, then wrapped in a salty bacon to boot, was great. And then if that wasn’t enough to put a person over the edge, it was drizzled with a sauce that just made you want more than the one bite you knew you were going to get because you were sharing this tapas course with three other people and one of those people was your husband and the other your son and daughter-in-law. So, this was no time to be hoggish and ask for more.
So, when I make these at home, I always make enough that everyone can have 2 or 3. The night I made these I decided to put each baked date on an arugula leaf. I love the peppery taste of arugula and I think it went well with the sweetness of the date and I also drizzled them with a little balsamic glaze. The balsamic glaze can be made by just reducing down a little balsamic until it thickens a little or just a few drops of balsamic will work just as well. I also saw one recipe where the person put a mint leaf over the opening of the date, topped with the cheese and then pressed in the almond then wrapped in bacon. I may try this the next time I make these little gems.
I usually use Marcona almonds but I had these whole almonds in the freezer. I also used Medjool dates which come from Morocco and also grown in the US. Sometimes I just buy the ones in packages where the dried fruits are located. I like buying in the bulk section though because I can buy the exact number I need which helps to cut cost. I have been known to sit and count out just 8 dates or 8 marcona almonds. I’m also guilty of going to the salad bar to buy one tiny ear of corn for an Asian dish or just a couple of cherry tomatoes.
Split the date on one side, remove the pit, insert the almond.
Press in about 1 tsp. of the blue cheese.
Or, put the cheese in first then press in the almond.
Bake in 350° oven until the bacon is nicely brown.
Put each baked date on top of a small arugula leaf (or mint leaf) and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Balsamic
1 lb. bacon, cut in half
blue cheese (I used Cambozola which is a blue and triple creme cheese mixed)
arugula or mint leaves, optional
balsamic glaze or balsamic vinegar
Slit the date on one side and remove pit. Take a small amount of blue cheese and put into the center of each date. Press a date into the cheese and wrap with 1/2 slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Arrange the dates on a baking sheet and bake at 350° until the bacon has browned. Remove from over and either eat as is or put on an arugular leaf, drizzle with some balsamic or balsamic glaze and serve.
When I made the balsamic glaze I just reduced down a little of the balsamic vinegar and added in a little honey or you could simply buy balsamic glaze or reduce just the vinegar down by half to make a glaze.