Note: Colavita and Honest Cooking provided me with Colavita Balsamic Glace, Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Rachel Ray’s Salt by the Sea so that I could develop this recipe, along with the White Balsamic Vinegar I used to make the goat ricotta cheese I posted about yesterday. Thanks to my generous sponsors!
As promised, today’s post is about roasted dates with ricotta cheese. Lest you be too casual about it, let me elaborate by saying that these roasted dates are stuffed with homemade ricotta and toasted pine nuts, then drizzled with Colavita Balsamic Glace and topped with freshly grated sea salt (using Rachel Ray’s Salt by the Sea). It is magic in your mouth, and I challenge you to eat just one. (Hint: it’s impossible.)
I first had roasted dates in 2007. Yes, I remember that day very clearly. The hubby and I were dating long distance (me in DC and he in the Middle East), and he came home for a much-needed holiday. I wanted to do something special for him, so I treated him to a meal at Komi, one of the best new restaurants on the DC dining scene at the time. Komi evolved over the years into a very special place for us, including being the place where the hubby proposed to me a year later. One of the many courses served to us on both occasions were roasted dates stuffed with mascarpone and decorated with sea salt. To this day, I still can’t eat a roasted date without evoking a very warm, happy memory for me. It’s like a culinary love letter. In my mouth.
I made up this recipe based on my fondness for that Komi roasted date. Like mascarpone, my goat ricotta is slightly sweet, creamy and decadent. Unlike mascarpone, the ricotta also has just a touch of tartness from the addition of the white balsamic vinegar. The dates, when roasted, form this caramelized crust on the outside from the natural sugars that comprise them, and the ricotta turned out to be a marvelous complement to that crusty sweetness. The toasted pine nuts in my version also add a nice textural, earthy crunch.
Colavita’s brilliant Balsamic Glaze cuts out the need for reducing balsamic vinegar on your own, which can be a sticky, messy step that requires constant monitoring so as not to scorch the sugars in the balsamic. Assembling these bad boys took me only a few minutes, then ten minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. By the time I pulled them out of the oven, a sticky sweet aroma had floated through the kitchen and into the living room, so much so that I had a small audience waiting for the dates. I took an additional couple of minutes to assemble them on a platter. All told, these dates made an easy, easy appetizer that went from oven to table in under 20 minutes.
I wish I could say the same thing about the dates I used to go on before I met the hubby. Ba-dum-cha! I’ll be here all week, folks.
- ½ cup goat ricotta (recipe here)
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts
- 20 Medjool dates (preferably with pits)
- 1 tablespoon Colavita extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Colavita Balsamic Glace
- kosher salt or salt from Rachel Ray's Salt from the Sea Grinder, to taste
- Heat a dry, small skillet over medium low heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Once skillet is hot, add pine nuts, stirring frequently, until toasted. Watch carefully and remove from heat as soon as they start to turn brown - pine nuts scorch easily!
- In a small bowl, stir goat ricotta. Add pine nuts and stir until just incorporated.
- Using a small utility knife, carefully make a longways slit in each Medjool date, removing the seed from the middle. Spoon ¼ to ½ teaspoon of the ricotta mixture into each date and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Line up all 20 dates on the baking sheet, leaving an approximately one-inch space between each one. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast dates for 10-12 minutes until ricotta is melted. Remove from oven and immediately drizzle balsamic glaze and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Serve immediately.
For more roasted stuffed dates, check out these recipes:
Medjool Dates Stuffed with Peanut Butter and Dipped in Chocolate by Lynsey Loves Food