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Food & Entertaining

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Author: Sydney Dye
Issue: September, 2013, Page 62



Date Night - Dates are the oldest fruit cultivated by humans, and more than 30 varieties are known to exist. Growing them requires a hot, dry climate, making Africa, the Middle East and parts of Arizona just the right environs. In the low desert, there are many local growers of high-quality dates, and you can buy these sweet treats fresh in stores from late summer to mid-fall. Dried dates are available year-round. When shopping for dates, look for fruit that is soft, moist and plump. 

Delicious and nutritious, dates make for a great snack. They are low in fat and sodium, contain no cholesterol and are high in fiber and magnesium. Our recipe for bacon-wrapped dates is a delightful combination of sweet and savory and would be a great beginning to a fall meal. The dates in this recipe are drizzled with a chermoula sauce. Chermoula is a thick North African sauce, or paste, often used as a marinade. Double the recipe for the sauce and use it on grilled or roasted fish or meat, as well as on steamed vegetables.


Serves 18

1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
One lemon, juiced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
1/2 cup chorizo
18 pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
18 toothpicks
Parsley, cilantro and lemon zest for garnish

Photo by Garrett Cook
 
HEAT oven to 400°.

ADD first eight ingredients in the order cited to a medium bowl. Whisk in olive oil to finish making the chermoula sauce. Set aside.

PRECOOK bacon pieces by placing them in a fry pan and cooking over medium heat until just brown but not crisp. Remove from pan, place on paper towels and set aside to cool. 

REMOVE casing from chorizo and pits from dates. Stuff approximately one teaspoon of chorizo into each date. Then, wrap one piece of precooked bacon around each date and secure it with a toothpick. Arrange dates, with bacon seam down, 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.

DRIZZLE wrapped dates with half of the chermoula sauce.

BAKE 5-7 minutes; then turn dates over and continue baking until bacon is crisp (5-6 more minutes). Drain on paper towel. Drizzle with remaining sauce.

GARNISH with fresh parsley, cilantro and lemon zest; serve immediately.


Chef’s Notes:
• Chorizo is a highly seasoned, coarsely ground pork sausage, generally flavored with garlic, chili powder and other spices. It is often used in Mexican and Spanish dishes. Mexican chorizo is made with fresh pork, while the Spanish version incorporates smoked pork. Remove the casing before using.
• Local mail-order suppliers of quality dates include the following: Dateland Date Gardens, dateland.com; Bard Date Company, barddate.com.


Sydney Dye is a home gardener, chef and owner of First Fig Culinary Adventures in Scottsdale.


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