I made these wonderful dates stuffed with goat cheese as an appetizer for a friend’s birthday party last week. People just loved them, and I have a lot of vegetarian and/or Jewish friends, so I was glad that I was able to make a great appetizer that everyone could eat.
Pancetta Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese (Dream Dates)
24 (or more) pitted dates – Medjool or whatever they have at the store
24 blanched almonds
6 ounces good goat cheese (plain or herbed, softened)
A few strips of pancetta, cut into 24 thin, skinny slices (about the size of a strip of bacon)
Also need: 24 toothpicks, soaked in water for 10 minutes or more
First, preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and set your goat cheese out to soften a bit. Then, get your dates and stuff them with an almond each. Then put your goat cheese into a pastry bag or a sturdy Ziploc bag with a small corner cut out of it and fill the dates the rest of the way with the goat cheese.
Wrap each stuffed date with a strip of pancetta and secure with a toothpick. Put these on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or other oven-safe pan with sides. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and serve right away.
For a recipe with only four ingredients, these little nuggets of joy are inexplicably complex. The honey sweetness of the dates, and the goat cheese adds a smooth yet inexplicable complexity to these things. And the almond balances everything out with a little crunch. I made a bunch without almonds, and they were just as good.
– For vegetarians, just leave out the pancetta. It works great, and no need to bother about the toothpicks.
– Use bacon instead of pancetta
– Wrap a fresh basil leaf around the stuffed dates before you wrap them in the pancetta.