When fellow reporter Molly Rosbach recently suggested we go to Gilbert Cellars because she was craving their bacon-wrapped dates, I said, “Sounds great!” and in my head I thought, “That sounds awful.”
So I wrinkled my nose at her plate when they brought it out and instead happily ate my salmon mousse spread, but I did agree to try one of the dates.
Whereupon I immediately ordered my own plate because they are delicious.
It might just be the perfect appetizer: A combination of sweet-and-salty, the crunchy bacon, the soft date, filled with smooth goat cheese and served with crunchy almonds. The only downside is they only give you five. But they are kind of big. The trick is making them last.
I turned to the Internet to find a recipe because I absolutely have to be able to make these at home. There are lots of variations, I was happy to find, and you can also stuff yours with ricotta or cream cheese, depending on your tastes.
I need to find out what type of bacon Gilbert uses on their dates, as it had a wonderful maple flavor. Or perhaps, as some recipes I’ve seen online, they drizzle a little sauce over top?
Here’s a recipe for you to try.
20 medjool dates (or any large date), pitted
1 small log of fresh chevre
10 strips of bacon, cut in half crosswise
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke your finger in the pitted dates, creating a little hole. Take a small junk of chevre (between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon) and push it into the date. Don’t overfill them, otherwise you’ll get a mess in the oven. Wrap each filled date in one half-slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet (I put mine on top of a silicone pad or wrap in aluminum and top with parchment) and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the bacon is fully crisped. There will be some grease on the pan, so before plating, pat the dates on a paper towel. Plate and serve after they’ve cooled for a few minutes. They’re hot!
(Note: Some recipes recommend cooking the bacon for a few minutes in the microwave, which makes it easier to wrap and also crispier in the end.)