This coming Monday is Tu BiShvat, the Rosh Hashanah (New Years) for trees. Sort of an Abrahamic Arbor Day. Rachel has challenged me to come up with a date based recipe in honor of Tu BiShvat.There is a custom to eat fruits from the Shiv’at HaMinim, the seven special species that Israel is known for growing. Dates are one of these seven species and are super versatile. I have been in to quick and easy appetizers lately, and I thought a stuffed date would be a great follow up to my Ruben Flat Bread recipe.
Dates can be cloyingly sweet, so I wanted to go in a more savory direction. With me you can never get enough meat, so I both stuffed and wrapped my dates in it. Mergez, a lamb sausage from North Africa , brings some nice spice to the dish, while the the bacon adds crispiness, salinity, and smoke. Together the two balance out intense sweetness of the dates nicely.
A great quick appetizer or hors d'oeuvre. The spice from the mergez, and the crispiness, salinity, and smoke from the bacon balance out the intense sweetness of the dates nicely.
- 24 Large Dried Dates Pitted
- 24 Slices Bacon I use beef bacon to keep it kosher, but any type will work
- 1 lb Uncooked mergez removed from the casing or ground lamb If using ground lamb see the mergez seasoning below
- 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1 tbsp Ground Fennel Seed
- 1 tbsp Paprika Smoked if you have it
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Crushed Green Peppercorn Regular black pepper will work in a pinch
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 5 Cloves Fresh Garlic Finely chopped
- Parchment Paper
- Sheet Pan
If using ground lamb instead of premade mergez, add all of the seasonings to the ground beef. Combine thoroughly. Your hands are the best tool for this job!
In a frying pan or skillet brown the sausage or ground lamb, and allow to cool.
The pitted dates should already have a slit in them. Stuff each date with as much of the sausage or ground lamb that will easily fit, being careful not to split the date
Wrap each date with a slice of bacon. Feel free to trim the bacon to length if it goes around the date more then twice. Stick a toothpick through the date to prevent the bacon from coming loose.
Place the dates on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Place in a cold oven and then set the oven to 350°F. Bake until the bacon begins to crisp. Serve immediately.
Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s Tu BiShvat date challenge recipe: Coffee Coconut Date Balls
Happy Tu BiShvat! Coffee Coconut Date Balls - Meat Your Vegetables
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