There was a time when I wouldn’t give dates a second look . . . not that kind of date! My mother would bake a date cake occasionally that required the purchase of, I believe, a yellow and red box of diced up date bits, then added to the usual suspects of flour, sugar, butter, eggs and spices . . . but I don’t recall what it tastes like . . . mainly because I don’t recall ever having a piece of it . . . dates were suspect in my 10-year-old mind . . .
Fast forward more than a few years and I’ve now seen the errors of my ways . . . dates are one of those treats we always seem to have on hand. In fact, you’ll find two or three Medjool dates packed in The Professor’s lunch almost every week; I’ll add a few walnut halves to the mix and he has a healthy mid-morning snack between classes.
I bet you didn’t know that 70 percent of the US Medjool date crop is grown by a dozen family farmers right in Bard Valley, California . . . and I’m going to bet you didn’t know that Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool Dates, aka Natural Delights for short, are hand-pollinated, hand-thinned and hand-picked . . . you did? Well I didn’t. But as I said, up until the last few years, dates were flying under my radar.
And if you haven’t seen the new Natural Delights Pistachio Rolls, Coconut Rolls or Almond Rolls, be sure to seek them out – they are fabulous and ready to place on a cocktail tray straight from the package . . .
Speaking of cocktails . . . Medjool dates can be used in both sweet and savory recipes and I thought that since the holidays are absolutely, positively here people . . . you might enjoy these little appetizers to serve at your next holiday party. Stuffed with creamy goat cheese, crunchy pistachios with a hint of mild onion and pepper, these bite-sized wonders pair quite nicely with a glass of bubbly . . . cheers!
Disclaimer: The nice folks from Bards Valley sent me a lovely box of Medjool dates to sample; While I am not being compensated for this post, the opinions are strictly my own.
GOAT CHEESE & PISTACHIO STUFFED DATES
Makes 16 appetizers
- 8 large size Medjool dates, halved and pits removed
- 4 ounces goat cheese, softened
- 3 Tablespoons chopped pistachios (I used salted pistachios)
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper – couple of grinds to taste
- Cut or carefully tear dates in half and remove pits
- Add soften goat cheese, 2 Tablespoons of pistachios (reserve 1 Tablespoon for garnish), 1 Tablespoon chives and a couple grinds of black pepper in bowl and combine well
- Taste and add more pepper if you like
- You can place the mixture in a piping bag and pipe into each half, but I used a small soup spoon and scooped approximately 1-1/2 teaspoons into each date
- Garnish with remaining pistachios and chives
- Serve with your favorite cocktail