Medjool dates have become a regular in my fridge lately. These middle eastern fruits boast soft, sticky flesh and a flavour that is a sweet mix of honey and caramel. They’re lovely as a snack by themselves, but are just as comfortable adding a rich sweetness to other dishes.
I’ve been including them in my Bircher Muesli mix, where the overnight soaking plumps them up and renders them almost fudge-like. I’ve also made several batches of these Choco-Almond Truffles that get all their sweetness from the dates, but taste like real chocolate truffles. Dates make a banana smoothie extra sweet, can provide some texture to a cheese board and are delightful in a tagine.
Without too much effort, they can be pimped out with complimentary middle-eastern flavours to create a snack or dessert that is relatively healthy, and looks positively pretty.
Using the date as a base, pistachios are chopped and mixed with honey and tahini to create a paste that is stuffed into the centre of the date. A sprinkling of coconut finishes it all off. Simple. The rich, sweetness of the dates is offset by the sesame hit from the tahini and the lightness of the coconut. It’s a one-bite sweet treat that is rich in fibre and potassium, and gluten free.
I recently attended a party hosted by friends who avoid gluten. I was charged with bringing a dessert. I cheated and bought two slices of gluten-free apricot and coconut shortbread from the deli, but that wasn’t enough to go around. So I added these pistachio-stuffed dates, a handful of nuts and dried fruit and laid them all out on a platter to make a pretty, not-too-sweet dessert. It provided a nice contrast to the other sweet treats on the table. And the leftovers didn’t last long in my fridge. They’re a great, quick, mid-morning snack.
Pistachio-Stuffed Dates with Coconut
Makes 26 dates
• 1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
• 1 teaspoon tahini
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 26 dates
• Shredded, unsweetened coconut, for sprinkling over the top
Chop pistachios in a food processor till a crumble-like texture forms. Mix pistachios with the honey and tahini, adding a little extra of each if the mix needs more to stick together nicely.
Slice each date lengthways to the pit, then remove the pit.
Stuff the pistachio mixture into each date then sprinkle with coconut.
Adapted from Whole Living, Jan/Feb 2012 issue